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The Cubs should move up the starting time of all night games

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They’ve already done this twice in 2019 for weather. But there are other good reasons to do so for every night game.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Twice already this year (April 11 vs. the Pirates and May 8 vs. the Marlins), the Cubs moved the starting time of the up by 30 minutes from 7:05 p.m. to 6:35 p.m. CT. The reason in both cases was to avoid bad weather forecast to come in later in the evening. In the first instance, rain hit late in the game and produced a delay; the second time, the game was completed a couple of hours before heavy rain hit the north side of Chicago. Moving the game time up was an excellent choice and very proactive on the Cubs’ part.

I’m here to argue for the proposition that the Cubs should move up night-game times permanently, to 6:35 p.m. or even 6:05 p.m.

The reason? The length of games, and the distance many fans have to travel to get to Wrigley Field. Of the 20 games so far at Wrigley this year, just four have been shorter than two hours, 45 minutes, and five nine-inning games have gone 3:15 or longer. That means for a night game, if it goes that long, fans in outer suburbs who stay till the end are going to get home at midnight. This isn’t optimal for people who have to work early the next day, or for getting kids in the ballpark on school nights. It’s even difficult, I have noted from some of your comments here, to stay up late for these games even if you’re just watching them on your TV at home.

Some teams have taken note of this trend already. The Giants surveyed their fans last year and have moved night game times up from 7:15 to 6:45. The Brewers also start some of their early-season night games at 6:40, as do the Reds (the Cubs will play three games there this week that start at 6:40 local time). The Indians start all their weeknight games in April and May at 6:10 local time, and the Yankees have begun starting some of their weeknight games at 6:35 p.m. The Rockies and Diamondbacks have started night games at 6:40 for many years.

And, you have just watched two consecutive Cubs Sunday night games that began at 6:05 p.m. CT. ESPN has moved all its Sunday Night Baseball games back to 7:05 Eastern time, for the same reason: the games were just ending too late for many people who had to get up for work or school on Monday morning. Fox-TV, too, when it has its “Baseball Night in America” series in mid-summer, starts the games at 7:15 Eastern time, regardless of the home ballpark.

I’m well aware that if the Cubs were to move night-game starting times up to 6:05 p.m., there would be difficulty for some to get to the ballpark by first pitch because of their work or school, or travel from a distant suburb. But perhaps in the case of people who are only coming to a handful of night games a year, they’d be able to arrange to leave work or school early on a few days. It would probably be better in any case than getting home at midnight, now that the average game time has gotten longer.

When night baseball first came into being, games often started at 8:30 p.m. or even 9 p.m., the theory being that people would have dinner at home and then come to the game. But back in the 1930s and 1940s when every team but the Cubs installed lights, in general fans lived closer to ballparks and, of course, games went much faster. Even as late as the 1970s many teams would start night games at 8 p.m., eventually moving them up to 7:30 and then the now-common 7 p.m. A 7:05 p.m. start might have made sense when the Cubs first began night games in 1988, but 31 years later, games and the lives of the fans attending them have changed. If the Cubs want to get more people in the park for night games — and keep them around for the whole game — maybe moving up game times would help.

So I’m going to ask you, the Cubs fan attending games (or just watching on TV), what you would prefer: The current 7:05 p.m. time, a 6:35 p.m. start, or 6:05 p.m. Usually in polls (and if you are reading this article via Google AMP or Apple News you will have to open it in a browser to see the poll), I’ll give you an “other” or “doesn’t matter” choice, but this time I’d like you to make a definitive choice. (If you don’t have a preference, the current 7:05 time is probably your choice.)

Poll

What time should the Cubs start night games that aren’t on national TV?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    6:05
    (750 votes)
  • 40%
    6:35
    (613 votes)
  • 9%
    7:05
    (150 votes)
1513 votes total Vote Now