10/08/2005: Not that I'm condoning or encouraging sports gambling....
but if the ex-Cub factor wasn't enough to make you consider putting down some money on the White Sox, Joe Sheehan points out that the scheduling of the remaining ALDS games don't exactly do much to diminish the White Sox's chances of winning at least Game 1 of the ALCS (Baseball Prospectus premium content; BP subscription required):
Today's game in New York has been rained out, postponed until Sunday evening. This might allow the Yankees to bring Mike Mussina back for the elimination game, but I understand that Mussina never left California, which complicates matters. If he doesn't pitch, the Yankees lose the biggest benefit of the rainout, and in fact, yield a lot of ground to the Angels, who get a critical day of rest for a bullpen they worked hard last night.It makes one want to ask, does the postseason exist to determine a champion of Major League Baseball, or to maximize Fox's profits?
The real problem, however, is the start time for the postponed game. The game is currently scheduled for 7:55 ET Sunday night. Mind you, this is Game Four, and if the Yankees win, there's a Game Five in Anaheim on Monday night (and Game One of the ALCS in Chicago on Tuesday night).
Yankee playoff games run well past three hours, they have for most of this run. Some of that is their style of play, some of that is the increased commercial inventory that needs to be shown. The earliest a game would reasonably end is 11 p.m., and it's possible the game wouldn’t end until close to midnight. Even rushing through showering and post-game media, I can't see either of these teams taking off for the West Coast until 2 a.m. at the absolute earliest, and 3 a.m. at the latest. That puts them on the ground in Los Angeles of Anaheim at, what, 5-6 a.m. local time? They'd get to the hotel and into a bed at maybe 7 a.m. Even if you skip BP on Monday, you're looking at being at the park at 3:30 local time for a 5:15 or so first pitch.
Mind you, that's with fairly conservative estimates. If tomorrow's game runs long, if I'm too conservative on how long it takes from final pitch to takeoff, if there are weather or other delays, you're looking at two teams playing a decisive game as little as seven or eight hours after landing back in California, and 20 hours and three times zones removed from the last pitch on Sunday.
There's no way in hell this game should be an 8 p.m. start. The only reason it is is that Fox needs a prime-time game for that slot, and I guess they don't want to change the start time of the Braves/Astros game (which, it should be noted, would face similar challenges, albeit with a much shorter flight involved). You shouldn't run a championship this way, and if the sequence of events above occurs, you're going to be watching too very tired teams playing the biggest game of their season on Monday night.
All because Fox needs a game in prime time.
It gets better, though. After Monday's contest, the winner of that game would have to immediately fly to Chicago for Game One of the AL Championship Series. Let's see...figure a game that ends around 8:30 p.m. in Anaheim, mix in a longer post-game because it's a clincher, so no one gets off the ground until midnight at the earliest. That puts you in Chicago at 6 a.m., in a hotel at 7:30, and needing to be at the park at 5:00 for a 7:15 start.
Which might not be so bad if you hadn't just done all of that the day before.
Let's just say I like the White Sox in the first game under these circumstances, unless they decide to open with Ken Kravec or something.
Len on 10.08.05 @ 04:48 PM CST