Monday, October 22, 2007

Is it over yet?

Now, I'm a Mets fan, so clearly I have a high tolerance for pain. But Sunday night's deciding game between Cleveland and Boston? Excruciating.
Not because of the play -- until the 8th inning, the game was everything a Game 7 should be. There were run-saving double plays. Gutsy pitching. Big hits. And two heartbreaking plays involving Kenny Lofton on the basepaths (wait, Kenny Lofton still plays baseball??).
Problem was, by the time the bottom of the 8th rolled around and Boston started hitting like it was batting practice, it was nearly 11:30 at night. Now, I can stay up for a West Coast game with the best of them, but this match-up started at 8 p.m. At least, it was supposed to. First, there was the 20 minute pregame show, filled with canned banter delivered by whatever vapid Syracuse grads Fox could round up.
Then there were the five-minute commercial breaks, with dramatic highlight montages tacked onto each end. And, of course, the announcers, who remarked upon the late hour with head-scratching confusion -- as all annoucers tend to do in these days of longer and longer playoff tilts. Hey Joe, I'll tell you why the game is taking so long: Your network decided to squeeze a few more dollars (and therefore a few more commercials) into every half inning!
Pity the poor parent whose little Sox or Indians' fan had to be pulled out of bed this morning after staying up way past their school-night curfew. Pity them more when you consider that each of the first four World Series games is also scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.
And pity the major networks if they don't figure out sometime soon that baseball fans don't want to have to set aside 5 hours for every playoff game. And that real fans don't need overblown clips, endless commentary or Las Vegas-style graphics to make Game 7 exciting. Let the Fall Classic speak for itself -- or the sound of fans snoring is liable to become deafening.

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