Why MLB playing season’s first game in the early morning hours hurts fans, even as Korea games help growth

Written by on March 20, 2024

Welcome to Snyder’s Soapbox! Here I pontificate about a matter related to Major League Baseball on a weekly basis. Some of the topics will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is it’s free and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you’ll get smarter, though, that’s a money-back guarantee. Let’s get to it.

The 2024 Major League Baseball season begins this week! It’s only two games, of course, and then we have to wait another week for the other 28 teams to start their actual games. Yes, we have, in isolation, two teams playing a two-game series on March 20-21 before the branded Opening Day on March 28. 

I love the fact that MLB continues to push the game internationally. There’s another London Series this season and I’ve long been a fan of the games in Mexico. I’d love to see some Caribbean Series, too. The crowds would be amazing and the time zones are similar. Speaking of which … 

The games all the way over in South Korea, just as those in Japan and Australia, just don’t logistically work for regular-season contests, though. 

The first game of the 2024 Major League Baseball season begins at 6:05 a.m. ET. Now, I’ve had to belabor this point for years because it seems like any time I complain about a time, there’s backlash coming my way about how I’m worried about being tired. This isn’t about me or fellow baseball media. This is our job and we’re fine to deal with curveballs (see what I did there?) in the schedule. I’m worried about the lifeblood of the game and that would be the fans. The 6 o’clock a.m. hour on a weekday is hardly fan-friendly.

You know where it gets worse, though? Move west. The teams playing in the game are the Dodgers and Padres. After a long offseason, Dodgers fans are surely overly excited to get going and watch their team that now includes Shohei Ohtani, Teoscar Hernández, Tyler Glasnow (he’s starting Opening Day) and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in addition to holdover studs like Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts. Padres fans still have plenty to be excited about, too, even after a disappointing 2023 season. If anything, that’s all the more reason for the excitement of a clean slate. 

Fans in San Diego and Los Angeles will get to watch their favorite teams at 3:05 a.m. on a weekday. 

That’s outrageous. 

It just doesn’t seem to work out with the schedule. Since it’s so far away, the travel is hell for the teams, which means MLB has to schedule the games about a week before Opening Day to give everyone time to recover and get over the jet lag. 

Not only that, but did you know both the Padres and Dodgers have spring training games between their first regular-season series and their next? 

I’m trying to imagine the outcry among all the national sports talk shows if, say, the NFL played a regular season game in the middle of August and then had those two teams play an exhibition game before getting to the normal regular-season schedule. Yes, I’m aware MLB is different, but that doesn’t make this any less absurd. There’s a floating two-game series that matters toward the middle of March halfway across the globe that relatively few hometown fans are going to be able to watch live. 

One might say, yeah, but it’s only two games. It is. The Padres missed the playoffs by two games last year. They were one of four non-playoff teams to finish within two games of a playoff spot, so you can’t tell me two games aren’t relevant. 

Like I said above, I fully support MLB’s international efforts, but my loyalty is always going to be to the hometown fans and they are getting jobbed here. It’s not a huge deal and we’ll all be fine. We’ll have forgotten about the nonsense a few weeks into the regular season, but it’s still a miss and the Soapbox is here to opine about misses. 

The post Why MLB playing season’s first game in the early morning hours hurts fans, even as Korea games help growth first appeared on CBS Sports.


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