In April, there’s nothing quite like a weekday Red Sox game, a little gift of spring that comes with a soft excuse to duck out of work or life and watch some low-stakes baseball.
But it’s October now, playoff time, when every pitch matters, and the news that the Sox would open their series with back-to-back games during work hours – 4 p.m. on Thursday, and 2 p.m. on Friday, both in Houston – was received by diehard fans as not a gift, but a problem.
“It stinks,” said Albert Seahiu, a fan from Braintree who said he goes to more than half the Sox home games each year. “I’ve gotta leave work early both days so I can be home in time to get my jacket on and get to the bar to watch with my friends.”
But Seahiu, who was working at a construction site on Water Street in downtown Boston on Wednesday, said you have to do whatever it takes come playoff time.
“I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” he said. “Even if I got fired.”
That may be an extreme case, but there is no question that having the two biggest games of the year (thus far, at least) going off at a time when most people are working or commuting has required some rearranging for fans.
“When I heard the game times, I immediately changed the settings on my ESPN app to give me constant score updates, instead of just the final score,” said Elizabeth Ramirez of Medford. “It’s the best I can do because I just got back from vacation and I can’t sneak out of work.”
It’s not uncommon to have weekday games during the Division Series, when the playoffs are still crowded with eight teams, but having two weekday games in a row is rare, and stressful for fans who know these could be the games that make or break the season. Last year, the Sox lost the first two games of the playoffs on the road, limped back into Fenway, and ultimately got swept by the Cleveland Indians.
“We’re gonna have a lot of people getting in early and picking it up a notch so they can be done early,” said Dennis Glynn, a FedEx driver from Jamaica Plain. “I only care about the Bruins, so it won’t change my life in any way, but there are going to be a lot of people looking for help so they can sneak out.”
There are, of course, some people in such high positions at work that sneaking out is not a problem. Like Bob Burbidge, who owns his business, Genesis HR Solutions.
“Yeah, I won’t be going to the office,” said the Lexington resident, who said he watches every Sox game because he’s a glutton for punishment. “I’ll watch it at home and I’ll have the computer on, but I’ll be paying more attention to the game than the computer.”
And he knows at least one of his employees will be watching it on his computer in the office, something he is willing to overlook for the playoffs. “If he weren’t a Red Sox fan, we’d have to change that policy,” Burbidge said.
But not everyone works 9-5 or can afford to stay up late watching prime-time games, so for them, the early games are a rare chance to actually catch the Sox during the work week.
“I get up at 3:00 in the morning to go to work, so I don’t usually find out what happens until I check the Internet in the morning,” Tom Swenson of Franklin said as he unloaded bottles of soda and water from a Coca-Cola truck outside a Tedeschi’s downtown. “So this is great for me. I can’t do an 8:00 p.m. game, but 4:00 is perfect. I wish they played all the games at 4.”Billy Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.