Wake the kids: Earlier post-season baseball … which means, more sun in the right-fielder’s eyes on West Coast home starts

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No doubt saving the sport from its own demise, and making it possible for games to end before midnight on the East Coast as long as there are no pitching changes, commercials or 5.0 earthquakes, Fox and the MLB made a joint announcement this fine afternoon:

The 2009 World Series and American League Championship Series on the network will start before 8 p.m. ET on weeknights. That means the World Series will now have the earliest start time of any U.S. major sports championship — excluding the Super Bowl, with its 6:17 p.m. ET/3:17 PT kickoff so the parties at home end at a reasonable time.

Noted: The last time a regularly scheduled World Series game on Monday through Friday started before 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT was 38 years ago – Game 5 of the ’71 World Series between Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Why it’s taken this long to return to the good ol’ days of early nighttime baseball is a mystery.

A day game in the postseason? C’mon. Who are we kidding. Not even on the weekends. Makes too much dollars to keep ‘em as late as possible.

To adjust to this new start — a 40-minute adjustment from previous years — Fox says its pregame show will start at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m PT for weeknight games with first pitch scheduled for 7:57 p.m. ET./4:57 p.m. PD. When did a game really need a pregame show? Why not start first pitch at 7:30 p.m./4:30 p.m.?

Games on Saturday, by the way, will start no later than weekday games and could start earlier (to be determined). Games on Sunday will take place following the conclusion of the NFL on Fox as in year’s past (at about 4:30 p.m. PT).

Not sure if this will also affect the NLCS on TBS, the network that’s locked into that contract. It won’t change the Fox coverage of the MLB All Star game this July.

Said MLB commissioner Bud Selig: “Our goal is to schedule games to allow the largest number of people to watch and this change puts our games in the window we believe will work the best for our fans. We appreciate the work that Fox has done to make this happen and I expect that fans of all ages will respond favorably to this adjustment.”

Said Fox Sports president Ed Goren: “Prime time postseason games on Fox have always been scheduled for a window that maximizes the potential audience from coast to coast. The fact is that over the last few years, games have been ending a bit later than we’d like. This new schedule, made possible through the cooperation of our stations, affiliates and Major League Baseball, should help fans of all ages see weeknight games from start to finish.”

East Coast fans will complain about games ending too late. West Coast fans will be slightly miffed by games starting too early. What’s wrong (we know the answer but will ask it anyway) about day games, in this land of DVRs and Internet streaming, and NCAA basketball tournament games with 9:30 a.m. tipoffs and the fact the game needs to build an audience of younger viewers who are AWAKE IN THE DAYLIGHT?

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