How do you do, fellow kids? Do you have time for a quick word about the Boston Molasses Disaster? In January of 1919, a large molasses tank exploded, sending a river of ooze through the city that killed 21 people and injured 150 more. For years afterward, Bostonians swore they could still smell the stuff under the persistent summer sun. And now I smell something foul at ESPN.
Just a quick note at the outset: What you are about to read is a certified take, one forged in the lukewarm fire of middle age by a guy who starts work at 6 a.m. and has a one-year-old daughter -- forces that conspire to send me to Sleepy Viking town at an hour incompatible with most night games, be they on Sunday or otherwise. It is a take that will change exactly nothing whatsoever, and perhaps less than that.
Anyhow, the take is as follows: the Red Sox and Yankees do not always have to be the Sunday Night Baseball game, as they have been for the last two weekends. I oppose this nonsense, because Sunday Night Baseball is a pox on our great game! I do not like how it "starts" at 8 p.m. and, owing to the elongated commercial breaks and general pace of trench warfare, ends sometime during hour two of "Sully and the Scuzz" on the Monday morning commute. This won't just be the second time we've pre-empted the Scuzzer, either; two weeks ago, the Sox played the Astros into the wee hours.
I wasn't awake, having long since been swallowed by the sweet darkness, the molasses having taken me whole. To the caveats!
Obviously ESPN has a good reason for choosing Red Sox/Yankees for their primetime slot, because it is Red Sox/Yankees, and people will watch the game on television in larger numbers than they would watch other teams. Their logic for doing so is sound and I'm perfectly clear on why it has worked this way, being mostly of sound mind.
Howevah, the day's best game will take place Sunday at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs will face the Nationals. And coming off a Red Sox/Yankees game a week before, there's every reason to throw the Cubbies on for all the non-HBO watchers to see. Leave Papi to his Game of Thrones, and us to our decent baseball teams.
Of course, a lot of this is informed by the Yankees' spiral into mediocrity, which has come as fast as a Dellin Betances fastball. Just last week in this same spot, my editor threw a line into my "The Yankees will rise again!" column that hedged against my predictions of doom for this season; seven days later, the team looks like toast, and you don't have toast for Sunday dinner. [Said editor's note: Stop exposing the business, Bryan.]
Examining the Red Sox' problem against left-handed pitching
While Boston's offense has been fine this year, they haven't been able to produce against lefties.
On both a more serious note and a larger level, continuously putting the Red Sox and Yankees on the game's biggest stage is great for television, but it robs the rivalry of something of its inherent baseball-ness, and the idea that every regular season game counts just as much as the next one, or that you could, you know, take your kids to see the biggest rivalry in the sport. Oh yeah, I went there. I am Thinking of the Children. But I am also, as an early sleeper and generally cantankerous man, thinking of myself.
The bigger problem with Sunday Night Baseball is that it is, real talk, kind of terrible no matter who is playing, even if it's better than ever, largely thanks to its suddenly wonderful booth. Jessica Mendoza is fantastic, but no matter how you slice it, the Sunday Night Baseball delivery system is about 20 years outdated. There's no real reason to get excited about seeing Papi do his thing on a national game when you can do it on any day of any week at your own convenience with nothing more than an MLB.tv account.
If ESPN really wants to maximize the value of Sunday Night Baseball, it would be better served, in the long run, but airing games between teams that are actually good at the time, instead of games between first- and last-place teams that are literally retreads of the previous week's programming, based on chippy games that happened 10 years ago. Maybe no one would notice or care at first, but it could build the product in the long run.
Until then, I'll just miss about 90 percent of the Sox game while I'm off watching other things ranging from, but not limited to, [This editor's note: I have saved some of you from a Game of Thrones spoiler. My watch continues.] and the back of my eyeballs, and for the other 10 percent I'll likely cringe through a broadcast that moves at the speed of the Boston molasses flood, and is just about as fun. Something here stinks -- even if it's likely just my own hot take cooking up the smell.
Here is a good podcast about the Boston Molasses Disaster, if you're into that type of thing.