IMHO: A Weekly Commentary from our Publisher
Baseball fans are aware of the biggest current rivalry in the Major Leagues (unless you’re not one of the Eastern Elitists) – it’s the Yanks and the Sox (the red ones, from Boston, of course).
Since they are in the same division they play each other 18 times a year, 9 in each other’s park. While the Yankees look like they have the division locked up, Boston is playing for the wild card berth to the post season. But they still have 3 more games to play, scheduled for the weekend of September 25, 26, and 27. If Boston wins all 3, they can at least tie the season series.
ESPN has lined up the final game of the season between these two rivals for their Sunday Night Baseball special – one of the top advertising earning events on the all sports channel. ESPN has the right to pick game scheduled for Sunday and move it to start at 8:00 p.m. EST for this very special event. It is even more important on Sunday evenings in September, when baseball and football go head and head. That way baseball only competes with one NFL night game.
So, one might wonder why ESPN agreed to move their Sunday Night Baseball special on this coming September 27 from an 8:00 p.m. start time to 1:00 p.m.. Competing directly against a New York Football Giants game starting at 1:00 p.m. the same day. Competing against 8 other NFL games with TV start times of 1:00 p.m.. One might ask what is going on.
And, if you happen to look at the religious calendar, you would note that the Jewish Day of Atonement, the highest holy day of the year known as Yom Kippur, begins at sundown on September 27–which is at 6:45 p.m. in New York City.
One might think that this is a common practice among pro sports teams and their primary source of income – TV contracts. NOT! I’ve only been going to pro-sporting events for 64 years (as an 8 year-old I saw my first Detroit Tiger game in 1946). I can’t recall any game being moved so it wouldn’t start at 1:00 p.m. on Good Friday. I can’t even count the number of NFL games played on Christmas day when it falls on a Sunday.
Just a little digging turned up the story. Here is an extract from an Associated Press account of what happened, published on Tuesday of this week:
Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., had sent a letter to (Major League Baseball Commissioner) Selig and ESPN President George Bodenheimer urging the game be returned to its original afternoon start time. “There’s no reason why the largest Jewish community in the country should be punished for a last-minute scheduling swap,” Weiner wrote in the letter.
Weiner told the AP that he had spoken with Selig earlier in the day. “He said he agreed, and that he had heard from his own rabbi, that this was a problem,” Weiner said. “He said he was riding ESPN to change their position.” “It was a basic thing that they can do to be sensitive, and the right thing was done,” he added.
The congressman said that ESPN had the contractual right to change the starting time. “There is the contract, there is the major league rule book, but then there is a higher authority that was dictating a lot of this for fans,” he said.
Could it be true that we now know whose ‘higher authority’ is in charge of Major League Baseball?? I’m just saying!
IMHO, Don Clements