Major League Baseball gave in to ESPN's wishes and agreed to change the start time of the final Yankees-Red Sox game of the season so that it could appear on Sunday Night Baseball on September 27th. The only problem with that, beyond the fact that the game might not wind up meaning all that much, is that is also the first night of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year to Jews.
After an outcry, sources said the Sept. 27 game was returning to its original start time of 1 p.m.
Yom Kippur starts at sundown, which makes it impossible for anyone who observes the holiday to watch the game. Now, for some of us the chance to avoid listening to Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips would be a sign that the big guy upstairs was rewarding us for a year well lived, but those who bought tickets to the game may not be so pleased with the higher powers. They bought tickets to a game scheduled to start at 1 p.m., and there is sure to be a fair number that wouldn't have bought the tickets if the later start was set in April.
In many cities featuring Major League Baseball, that wouldn't be such a major problem but, as you're probably aware, New York isn't one of those cities. Neither is Boston, for that matter, which makes the whole thing a pretty substantial blunder by both the league and network, especially since the NFL went through the same exact thing after they scheduled a Jets game at 4:15 on the 27th.
Congressman Anthony Weiner is calling them on the blunder. Some might say that members of the House of Representatives have more important issues to deal with than the first pitch of a baseball game, but Weiner and his 434 cohorts would be quick to tell you that they've also got to run for re-election every two years. Wiener wrote a letter to Selig and ESPN President George Bodenheimer asking them to return the game because "there's no reason why the largest Jewish community in the country should be punished for a last-minute scheduling swap."
Punishment is a bit of an overstatement, especially since sports fans have been subject to moving game times for television purposes for quite some time. Fans, Jewish or otherwise, who bought tickets to a Sunday game between the Yankees and Red Sox had to know there was a damned good chance that the game was going to pique ESPN's interest. That raises the question of why they wouldn't just have To Be Determined as the start time for the game from the get-go and let people decide for themselves if they want to worship at Temple Beth Israel or Temple Beth Steinbrenner.
If Yankee fans were to mount a campaign in the future, their best interest may be to make an unholy alliance. Kevin Youkilis is Jewish and sat out a game on Yom Kippur in 2004. There's a much higher likelihood that the game is of vital interest to the Red Sox, and they'd probably prefer to have one of their best hitters in the lineup when they play it. Can shared religious beliefs overcome the divide between Yankees and Red Sox?
We think it can, especially since you'll have a chance to ask forgiveness later that same day.
UPDATE: Don't mess with Anthony Weiner, or Selig's rabbi, for that matter. The game's been moved back to 1 p.m.
Weiner told the AP that he had spoken with Selig earlier in the day. "He said he agreed, and that he had heard from his own rabbi, that this was a problem," Weiner said. "He said he was riding ESPN to change their position."
"It was a basic thing that they can do to be sensitive, and the right thing was done," he added.