Here’s a tale of woe from Tom Pringle. Follow Tom on Twitter @pedroiasface
Let us go back in time to December 2000, I was 17, and bored. It was a Saturday afternoon, bitter cold outside and I knew the ground would be frozen hard for football the next day. I finished mylunch and told my parents I was planning to use the internet for a few hours to do some “revision”for college. I asked them not to pick up the phone until I had finished my revision, for those of youwho aren’t pre-millennials this was a rather big deal for us using dial-up internet. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, ask your parents.
I happened to stumble onto the NFL website, I spent some time looking at all these brightly coloured uniforms, the headgear and the large collection of stats and numbers. I had always liked the NFL in the 80s and early 90s, especially after my uncle had given me a complete team guide for one season. It may have been 1990, but I can’t be sure. He had told me to support the Los Angeles Raiders, being the rebel I always was I picked the Chicago Bears. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe it was that slick orange C on the side of that deep blue helmet, or maybe it was because they were pretty damn good.
The coverage in the UK dried up in the late 90s and we were left in the dark, only the internet could update us now. The dial-up speeds weren’t quite fast enough for highlights videos, but we could see the scores.
As I looked at all the teams on that Saturday afternoon in December I decided this was a perfect opportunity to make a fresh start at the sport. Who is my local team for a fan in the UK?
Geographically it would be a team on the East coast, but which one? In terms of distance, it’s the New England Patriots. But what about my “local” team? First off, I looked up “Birmingham, USA” as it was my local city in the UK.
Birmingham, Alabama was the first match, Alabama didn’t have a “local” team as such, but there were a few to choose from. I thought, “Sod it, lets try Tamworth, USA.”, Tamworth being my home town and about 20 minutes away from Birmingham.
The dial-up internet did its thing as I patiently waited for Yahoo! to load and there it was, Tamworth, New Hampshire. A small town about 2 hours north of Boston, it was then I decided to be a New England Patriots fan. At the same time, I realised Boston had a fairly popular baseball team called the Red Sox. “Well, thats that decided, I’m a Patriots and Red Sox fan.” I said aloud to no-one in particular.
Fast forward to this week, where there has been much annoyance at the Red Sox being featured on Sunday night baseball for a few weeks running.
I’m currently in the Falkland Islands, which if you weren’t sure is 1 hour ahead of Eastern Seaboard Time (EST). So any Sunday Night Baseball which includes the Red Sox doesn’t bother me right now, except for the fact the internet is far too slow to try and stream the game, I end up watching the MLB.tv Gameday coverage on my iPad.
But when I’m back in the UK, with the time different this is rather annoying. As a UK resident, we are 5 hours ahead of Eastern Time, so any game that starts at 1pm
EST is fantastic for us. A 6pm start in the UK means it should be finished by 9pm, meaning we can start watching the 4pm EST starts as soon as the early games are complete.
Sunday Night Baseball starting at 8:05pm EST (1:05am UK time) is just plain rude, no UK fan should be subject to that!
I didn’t think about that in December 2000 when I picked my team, instead I decided to pick a team that loves a night game. I should have picked a team that doesn’t regularly start their games after 6pm Eastern, I should have picked a team that doesn’t like night games and prefers day games.
Who doesn’t love a night game? The Chicago Cubs, that’s who.
Everyone who likes baseball knows that the Chicago Cubs were the last team in the Majors to have floodlights installed at their ballpark, I imagine it’s one of those pub quiz questions that everybody groans at when it’s asked in the United States. But even with floodlights installed they have also pushed back against MLB when it comes to staging night games.
So, I wondered, have they really had more day games compared to the Red Sox since I started following them?
Because if they have, I could have seen much more baseball from “my team” during those 15 years.
Baseball Reference and their fantastic Play Index helped me out with this one, using their Splits Finder I managed to collect the data for how many day games the Cubs and Red Sox had played from the 2001 season to the 2015 season. The results weren’t surprising.
Cubs day games 2001-2015
• 1217 day games in total, avg. 81.13 day games per season. http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/3GQ5q
Red Sox day games 2001-2015
• 703 day games in total, avg. 46.87 day games per season. http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/sn4k0
In conclusion, the results are pretty clear. Back in 2001 if had a fast internet connection, the modern day version of MLB.tv app and an iPad, I could have potentially watched the Cubs almost double the amount of times I would have seen the Red Sox.
All in all I should have been a Cubs fan if I wanted to see my team play.
But if I had picked the Cubs over the Red Sox, I would still be waiting for a World Series. So maybe I got this one right.
Is there a native British equivalent to the Cubs? That is to say: “lovable losers,” popular despite often losing, that sort of thing? Bonus points if they outdraw a nearby team that does better, as the often-woeful Cubs do to the crosstown White Sox.
That’s a good question. I’m going to say Everton is a good bet. Live in the shadow of Liverpool, still a great club. Not ‘bigger’ but that’s largely due to their ground being hemmed in between tiny little streets which only adds to the charm. The other option might be Newcastle – huge club, never wins and actually just got relegated (though they’ll come straight back).