Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but there is good news on the baseball front heading into Memorial Day weekend. The Tampa Bay Rays appear poised to finally pull themselves above .500, popular manager Joe Maddon has a new contract — and playoff games will start earlier this October.
Fox announced this week that games for the American League championship and the World Series will start before 8 p.m. That is good news for baseball fans, particularly youngsters who have to go to school the morning after their favorite team plays.
When the Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies played in the Series last year, there were a lot of sleepy students and parents in late October. The games started around 8:30 p.m., and one rain-delayed game in Philadelphia ended at 1:47 a.m.
There are no rain delays at Tropicana Field, of course, but the games still were not over until well past normal bedtime for many fans. An 11 inning playoff game against the Red Sox ended with a thrilling Rays win — at 1:35 a.m. Rays fans were wide awake and cheering at the Trop, but many Tampa Bay residents had headed to bed hours earlier.
The first night game in Series history was not until 1971. And while this isn't a return to daytime baseball, it's a start. So moving up the first pitch for the World Series, and probably both league championship series, by some 40 minutes may not seem like a big deal now. But if the Rays get hot and the pitching gets better and October arrives and . . .