The Cubs take the field in Pittsburgh today for the first game of 2014. While the 2013 season largely eluded me I’m excited about the start of a new one, maybe because this winter was so mind-crushingly oppressive.
But the fact remains that so many of the games this season, as they have been for the last 12-15 years, won’t be played during the day. And I’m sorry but night games just don’t work for me and wouldn’t even if I did have a cable subscription, which I don’t. Too many of the games have increasingly been on channels I didn’t get and, quite frankly, I’ve got other things to do in the evening.
Plus, my contention that a reliance on night games on one of a half-dozen cable channels is killing generations of potential new fans remains firmly in place. As I’ve said before, the fandom of myself and my generation was built on being able to turn on the game on WGN-TV as soon as I got home from school every day. If it was a 1:20 game I could still catch the 7th inning or so. It it was a 3:05 game I could catch it starting in the 2nd or 3rd. So I saw almost every home game and many of the road games throughout my entire childhood.
If you’re making games inaccessible – they’re currently not part of WGN Radio’s streaming either – you’re not giving the fans the in they need. Why would I pay $200-$300 for a bunch of us to go to a game – or even for an MLB multimedia package online – if I’m not already invested in the team and the players?
Anyway, media theory aside, today the Cubs take the field for the first time in the 2014 season. The snow has indeed melted away from Wrigley Field, though the team won’t play there until the weekend. The wind will surely be blowing since it’s April in Chicago, though which direction is anyone’s guess. And a legion of fans will get their hopes up that predictions of it being an ugly year are over-stated and that somehow the ragtag team that’s been assembled will at least make things interesting in the NL Central this year.