Fans head to the stadium prior to the Chicago Cubs playing the Pittsburgh Pirates on opening day at Wrigley Field on April 1, 2011. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The scheduling for all of baseball used to be done by one married couple. It sounds crazy, like an apocryphal story that someone was spread around before the days of chain e-mails. But, no, two people used to handle all of the scheduling. They would spend all year playing the world’s most insanely complicated game of Rummikub, moving series around at the request of the teams, factoring in regional weather, and trying to avoid ultra-long road trips.
Then, the rise of the machines. A computer consulting firm took over, and there were problems. When Nationals/Padres games were scheduled, the computer would boot up a tic-tac-toe program in an attempt to teach the humans that when it came to games like that, no one wins. The lesson didn’t take. But the new computer scheduling also came with a cold efficiency that couldn’t replicate the human touch. The result is something like today: a day without a day game.
That’s not just the computer, of course. Teams have the final say over a lot of this, and for whatever reason (TV ratings, most likely), they’re convinced that night games are bigger money-makers, and no one should begrudge teams a chance to make more money. But there needs to be one afternoon game every day. It can start on either coast, but there needs to be one.
At 5 PT/8 ET on every Sunday during football season, America is focused on something like a Browns/Chargers game. People watch because the power of Goodell compels them. Of course, the NFL is a different animal with its once-per-week, event-type schedule, but the general principle remains the same: take one game, and make it the focus. If there are games being played on a given day, make sure that someone can watch games all day if they want to. Make sure that if someone’s schedule allows for only a three-hour block between x and y, there’s a game for them to follow.
Wednesdays and Thursdays usually have a day game because they’re getaway days. The Cubs will pick up a lot of the Fridays. The only thing left would be to convince each team to pick up an extra five or six day games out of 81 total. It’s certainly better for the sport as a whole, so maybe there’s a compromise to be found between "because we said so" and "here’s all of the money made by nationally televising this day game."
Computers don’t know what it’s like to have a day off without baseball in the morning or afternoon. They’ve never had a game going on while they finish their TPS report at 11:00 a.m. So don’t count on them to fix it. This is something for the humanoids, and it shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit in a corner and wait until 4:05 PT/7:05 ET.