With the NFL set to release the 2013 schedule soon, word has come out that there’s a conflict affecting the league’s opening night, traditionally a Thursday Night TV game hosted by the previous season champs.
The Super Bowl Champion Ravens, who should be opening the NFL season September 5th in Baltimore against one of the contending/marquee teams scheduled to visit Baltimore this year (New England, Green Bay, Houston, or perhaps divisional rivals Pittsburgh). Usually the season opener is announced during the owners meetings going on this week.
But wait. No. The Baltimore Orioles are supposed to host the Chicago White Sox in Baltimore that night… and the Orioles/Ravens share parking lots as their stadiums are adjacent, so the games can’t overlap. Moving the baseball game to the daytime, and making it a downtown Baltimore double-header funfest seems like the obvious solution, a win-win-win for both teams and the city.
But NOOOooo… Major League Baseball won’t move the game because the White Sox and Orioles both play the night before. What? It’s baseball, most of the players spend most of the time just standing around! Apparently the Ravens have even offered to compensate the Orioles (pay them with cash!) to reschedule their game. Nope.
There was mention of possibly moving the NFL opening night back to Wednesday (as it was last year to avoid conflicting with President Obama’s national convention speech) but that won’t work because it’s the first night of Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year).
So on one side you’ve got baseball, and on the other side there’s The Jews. Talk about an epic battle of old traditions!
The league has said it won’t move this year’s opener to Wednesday (thought it has played a Sunday Night game on Rosh Hashana in the past). Most everyone agrees that the Ravens shouldn’t have to play this game on the road (not sure why not… everyone plays 8 on the road either way), but Baltimore does travel to Denver this year if the league was looking for a juicy road matchup as an opening-night alternative. Or the NFL could stray even further from their own tradition and just have the Super Bowl champs host the first Sunday or Monday Night game and then throw some other marquee matchup on the first Thursday (Broncos at Patriots, Falcons at Packers, Niners at Seahawks, there are options).
Katy Feeney, MLB’s senior vice president for club relations and scheduling, told the Baltimore Sun: “I think mainly, from a baseball standpoint, to make that change is extremely difficult.” Really? Should I put that in all caps: REALLY? The game is 6 MONTHS away and if an early/afternoon game that Thursday doesn’t work due to travel, they can’t have the O’s play a double header that Friday or Saturday? Rescheduling one game out of 162 is “extremely difficult” with 6 months notice, and yet they manage rainouts and double headers all the time with little or no notice.
Yahoo NFL columnist Mike Silver makes a good case for the NFL to simply force MLB to switch. Former NFL player turned analyst Ross Tucker joked that “If Bud Selig doesn’t move Orioles game up the NFL should schedule a marquee game every single night of the World Series.” It’s a great point. Baseball wishes it had the popularity and ratings of the NFL. Here they have a chance to piggy back on one of the (many) big events in football but instead baseball is making headlines for being boneheaded and stubborn.
Spring Training is under way and baseball season is approaching fast. Yet sports headlines are still dominated by the “off-season” news surrounding the NFL. Sorry baseball fans, NFL football is king. Just move your one little baseball game (out of 162) that “might” have playoff implications and make room for opening night of a new NFL season with the reigning Super Bowl champs playing one of their eight home games. So, baseball, you can either play in the afternoon and join the party (where you might get noticed) or just get out of the way.