Good yontif and welcome back to my Jewish readers. I hope you had an easy fast.
As you obviously know, Yom Kippur began this year on Sunday night. That posed some problems for professional sports—particularly Jets’ fans—but schedules were re-arranged so Sandy Koufax wouldn’t have to come out of retirement just to sit a game out.
“Leaders in the Jewish community contacted us,” said Len DeLuca, the senior vice president for programming and acquisitions at ESPN. DeLuca noted that Yankees-Red Sox games had put up some of the highest ratings for the network but added, “This is the most solemn holiday in a religion.” So ESPN moved the game.
“Does it cost us money? No,” DeLuca said. “Does it hurt us in the ratings? Yes. But look at it this way, table tennis is thrilled to have the Yankees and Red Sox as a lead-in.” DeLuca added that in the future, “you can be sure, baseball teams will be looking at all the holidays.”
Baseball cannot avoid conflicts. Games are played on Good Friday, the most solemn day on the Christian calendar. On Oct. 2, 1978, they played on Rosh Hashana, and Bucky Dent hit one into the screen at Fenway Park. Supply your own moral.
One year, baseball did get a message from on high. In 1986, the geniuses scheduled two Mets-Astros postseason games, for the night and next afternoon of Yom Kippur. Yours truly predicted a downpour of Biblical proportions, which in fact occurred, postponing the afternoon game. They got what they deserved.