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A day in the life of baseball, via the iconic Wrigley Field scoreboard

A unique way of looking at Sunday’s final regular-season games.

Al Yellon

For the last three seasons, Major League Baseball has scheduled all of its final-day games at (approximately) the same time, within a few minutes of 3 p.m. Eastern time. This is done so that if there are postseason spots yet to be decided on that day, no West Coast team would have an advantage over an East Coast team whose game was over before they’d ordinarily start on the West Coast.

That wasn’t the case this year as all the postseason positions were decided before Sunday’s games. So Sunday was a day of pure baseball entertainment, played in good weather everywhere — and that’s not always a given in early October.

Sunday was also the first time the Cubs played Game 162 at Wrigley Field since this final-day scheduling was put into effect in 2015. I thought that might make for an interesting view of the famous manually-operated Wrigley Field scoreboard, which tracks games inning-by-inning.

The games didn’t all start at precisely the same time. Start times ranged from 2:05 p.m. CT to the Cubs/Reds start at 2:20 p.m. CT. Then, the Tigers/Twins game in Minneapolis was delayed about 40 minutes by rain. None of the games went to extra innings, and the first game to finish was in New York, where the Blue Jays and Yankees played in 2:28. The final game of the day, and the season, to be completed was in Washington, where the Pirates and Nationals slogged through a four-hour, 22-minute 11-8 slugfest. (That game, incidentally, is now tied for the seventh-longest, by time, in major-league history.)

Here are two GIFs, one at medium speed and one at fast speed, of 17 different photos I took of the Wrigley board from 2:00, just before the first game started, and about 5:05, when the scoreboard operators finished covering up the scores after the Cubs game finished. Thanks to Mike Bojanowski for matching up all the images so you could see the progression of scores.