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June 5, 2013

BP Unfiltered

The Best and Worst Days of the Week for Baseball

by Zachary Levine

Happy Wednesday.

It’s a pairing of words you don’t see often in the indoor world where people talk about hump day and humpin’ and getting over the hump and leveraging synergies. Don’t listen to that world. Those people are idiots.

Wednesday, whose need for a makeover in the real world ranks second only to Monday, is without much question in my mind, the best baseball day of the week. Now it helps that I don’t have a single toe in that 9-to-5 world. (This is the only 9-to-5 I recognize.) The other bias I must point out is that it’s the perspective of someone who wants to follow all games, not just a local team’s, and has the MLB package, so your list might look a little different.

But I think everybody can find something to love about Wednesday. Just look at today’s game times, presented from the time zonal perspective of an East Coaster, who will basically be able to see continuous baseball for 13 hours from noon to 1 a.m.

12:10
1:05
1:05
2:10
3:40
3:45
7:00
7:05
7:05
7:08
7:10
8:10
8:10
8:15
10:10

A perfect day for marathon baseball watching and following, Wednesday bats leadoff in my lineup of the best days of the baseball week.

1. Wednesday

For one thing, everybody plays, which when you’re looking for the best baseball day of the week rules out Mondays and Thursdays right away. And there are games throughout the day, separating this from Tuesday and Friday, which are almost exclusively night games. You don’t need the MLB package to think this is an edge, you just need to desire baseball happenings throughout the day even for fantasy or just news-following purposes. While Saturday is marred by the growing list of Fox games and thus regional blackouts and odd scheduling, and while Sunday crams all the games into early timeslots, Wednesday is a perfect steady drip of baseball with some teams on getaway day from Monday-Wednesday series and others doing their regular weekday night thing.
Most important baseball event on a Wednesday: Youppi! was ejected from a game at Tommy Lasorda’s request (8/23/89)

2. Friday

It’s not an ideal distribution of games, though it’s much better on the essentially alternate Fridays when the Cubs provide a festive 1:20 Chicago Time prelude to the weekend. (Please don’t take this away in the new TV deal.) But the great thing about Friday is that not only is everybody playing, but it’s also the day of the week with the most new series starting. So it’s a fresh look at a club you haven’t seen yet this year or the renewal of a big rivalry that will get Saturday and Sunday’s top billing. Plus it’s often fireworks night, and who doesn’t like that?
Most important baseball event on a Friday: Lee Elia explained the economics of Chicago (4/29/83)

3. Saturday

It’s really unfortunate that Saturday isn’t first on the list. The live experience on a Saturday, especially at a downtown ballpark with things to do after the game, is the best there is. But the television experience of Saturday is getting worse. When Fox started cramming five games into its timeslot and going hyper-regional, it can lead to a frustrating three hours for the blacked out television consumer and the placement of other games in strange timeslots to circumvent the TV rules. Here’s hoping in a few years, this will go to its rightful place atop the ranking.
Most important baseball event on a Saturday: Chan Ho Park kicked Tim Belcher during a fight (6/5/99)

4. Sunday

Fun fact: There have been more perfect games thrown on Sundays than on any other day of the week. Seven of the 23 have come on Sundays, compared to five on Thursdays, three on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and one each on Monday and Tuesday. This isn’t really surprising. Sunday is the only day that serves as a namesake for an intentionally bad lineup, which pushes it down the list a little bit with so many day games after night games. The fact that there’s one stand-alone game at night can be frustrating if it’s bad but also fun in the Twitter era to have the whole world watching just one game.
Most important baseball event on a Sunday: Mariano Rivera drew a bases-loaded walk against the Mets (6/28/09)

5. Tuesday

Tuesday is the day when we really earn what we feel sets us apart as baseball people. Any sport can do an event culture and Tuesday is hardly an event. The NFL doesn’t even play on Tuesday. There are no national games in baseball on Tuesday, no matinees either. Tuesday is a grind on the way to 162. Every team plays every Tuesday, some starting new series, some playing to small crowds for the second night in a row in already ongoing series. Tuesday’s lone reward for being so predictable is the All-Star Game, so don’t screw that up.
Most important baseball event on a Tuesday: Rick Monday was born (11/20/45)

6. Thursday

Thursday is Wednesday lite, and unfortunately, the imitation isn’t quite the original. All that’s missing is a full schedule, as we had a Thursday recently with five games with most teams off to travel for weekend series. So just not enough baseball. Be glad when we have the draft this Thursday.
Most important baseball event on a Thursday: The Washington Senators forfeited their last game due to a fan riot (9/30/71)

7. Monday

Here’s where the office ranking and the baseball ranking finally come together. Monday is the worst. There are more off-days on Mondays than any other, and when there’s that rare wraparound series that could give us a day game, teams will often go out of their way to schedule at night. (The Astros had to play in Anaheim at night this past Monday, meaning they arrived home two time zones east at 5 a.m.) And if Monday weren’t already the bleakest on the baseball calendar, it’s also the home run derby.
Most important baseball event on a Monday: Duane Kuiper hit his one career home run (8/29/77)

If this list has a flaw, it’s probably too much designed around the MLB package and not enough around the rhythms of the real world. How would your ranking differ?

Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Zachary's other articles. You can contact Zachary by clicking here

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