Until days ago, the Mets listed today’s contest with the Yankees as a Family Day. Hundreds if not thousands of Dads in the N.Y. area thought it would be a great time to take the kids to the ballpark. Guaranteed to be a bright sunny September afternoon with temperatures in the 70’s………a couple of hot dogs, soda, some peanuts maybe………and home by five no later than six….plenty of time to wrap up a glorious fun filled day with the kids knocked out and ready for bed by eight. Plus, the game promised to be a crucial one for both teams enveloped in a pennant race.
Except for one thing. The game has been switched to a 8:08PM start by ESPN. Understand that ESPN has a perfect right contractually to make this change. Their decision in choosing this game (they can pick any game scheduled) was the right one. After all, it’s the most marketable game being played today. And no one should ever think that a profit making enterprise is ever going to have a ethical cell in its makeup. But, this just isn’t right.
Let’s go back to Dad for a minute. He’s sitting there with four or five tickets he bought in May and ones he paid handsomely for……..and he’s the one who ends up having to cope with making a ethical decision.
Do I take the family to what is now “Family Night” to a game that won’t even begin before the littlest one is usually ready for bed…….on a school (and work) night when the parking lot won’t begin to empty after the game ends until midnight………fight traffic and play roulette deciding whether to use the Whitestone or Throgs Neck bridge to get home more quickly……….and then drag everyone out of bed for for school and work the next day…….
Or, maybe I should just eat the tickets and tell the kids that the big event I promised them weeks ago isn’t going to happen and hope they won’t ask that God awful question…..”Why, Daddy?”
This is a problem that clearly belongs to MLB and they have to fix it. ESPN is only doing what they are entitled to do when MLB gave away the store fattening the wallets of club owners for years to come. A contract is a contract until one of the parties says it’s not and then you enter a renegotiation stage where anything is possible (ESPN – can you smell the dollars coming your way again?).
But really, baseball needs its fans of tomorrow as much as they should need the dollars today. Strictly from a public relations standpoint, it’s a no brainer to charge at ESPN by requiring them to “consult” with teams before unilaterally changing a game’s start time.
Meanwhile, we will see tonight when the temperature dips below 50 how many kids are in the stands. Too bad for a sport that claims to be Our National Pastime……..