Forgive me a moment while I turn into my grandfather.

In the old days, I loved baseball. My heart pounded the first time I saw a Major League game. I diligently took pencil to scorecard and filled in every play, every ground out and fly ball. In those days, I knew all the players on my team and it wasn't hard, since they were pretty much the same players from last year.

At night, I went to bed with radio baseball. I almost always heard the final inning, and my bedtime was pretty early. When my team won, I fell asleep happy and dreamed of being on the mound for that final out, blowing the last pitch past that batter, getting slapped on the back by teammates.

This is how children fall in love with the game. Baseball is a slow oozing addiction, a needle into the arm, but once injected, you are hooked forever.

And it isn't happening anymore.

The World Series ended last month. It was a monumental event because, for the first time in more than 40 years, two New York teams squared off. One was the Yankees, the Rockefellers of baseball, with more stars than the next four cities combined. The other was the Mets, upstarts with a penchant for late-inning heroics.

All the makings of a Fall Classic

Except "Fall" now means "Fall Asleep."

Who can sit through baseball anymore? Not a child. No way. Every World Series game starts at night, close to 8:30, when 6-year-olds who are old enough to begin a love affair with the game are instead pulling on pajamas and saying nighty-night.

And that's the first pitch. You want to know the final-out times during the five games of this Subway Series? Here you go: 1:04 a.m., 11:35 p.m., 12:16 a.m., 11:51 p.m., midnight.

Forget the kids. I don't know many adults who can handle that.

If you don't see it, you don't remember it. That's pretty simple, right? But baseball, in its greed for prime-time TV ad revenue, continues to act as if the world will follow it into deep REM cycle. This is haughty. This is foolish. And it ultimately will cripple the game. The kids who are too sleepy to watch today won't bother to watch when they're grown up. Why should they? Who would sit through the slowest-moving game in major sports unless there's a sentimental attachment?


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