Red Sox keeping 7:10 p.m. as standard start time for Fenway Park night games in 2023

The Red Sox will keep 7:10 p.m. as their standard first pitch time for weekday home games at Fenway Park, according to The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo.

A team spokesperson confirmed to Cerullo on Tuesday that the club’s default start times for the 2023 season will be 7:10 p.m. on weekdays, 4:10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1:35 p.m. on Sundays, just as they were in 2021 and 2022.

There are still a number of games with start times to be determined, but the Red Sox are planning on trying out an earlier 6:10 p.m. start time for at least three midweek night games next season, per Cerullo. Those will happen against the Blue Jays on Thursday, May 4, against the Marlins on Thursday, June 29, and against the Rays on Wednesday, September 27. All three of those games will take place before the start of a road trip.

The Red Sox also plan on hosting two midweek, non-holiday games that will start at 1:35 p.m. The first will come against the Pirates on Wednesday, April 5, and the second will come against the Twins on Thursday, April 20. Both of those contests fall on getaway days as well.

As far as holiday games are concerned, Boston will be hosting the Angels on Patriots’ Day (April 17), the Cardinals on Mother’s Day (May 14), the Yankees on Father’s Day (June 18), and the Rangers on Independence Day (July 4).

The decision for the Red Sox to keep start times the same as they have been comes at a time when other clubs across Major League Baseball have elected to do the opposite. The Rays, for instance, experimented with a 6:40 p.m. start time for the majority of their home games at Tropicana Field this past season and will keep things the same in 2023.

Clubs have begun starting night games earlier in an effort to keep fans at the ballpark for entire games. Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy acknowledged last month that the Red Sox were looking into a similar change after averaging the second-highest time of game (3 hours and 11 minutes) in the American League.

“We’re looking at start times in the context of what’s best for our fans, what’s best for the baseball operation,” Kennedy told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) at the club’s end-of-season press conference. “We’ve had lots of discussions with players and (Alex Cora) and his staff and baseball operations. We are looking at potentially some different start times next year.”

Though they ultimately decided against moving up the start time of weekday night games in 2023, the Red Sox are optimistic that MLB’s new pace-of-play initiatives (such as the pitch clock) will enhance the in-game viewing experience for fans beginning next season.

With that being said, the Red Sox are scheduled to open the 2023 campaign against the Orioles on March 30 at Fenway Park.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy Admits Starting Majority of Home Games at 7:30 PM ‘Wasn’t Right Decision’

At 6-12, the Red Sox are off to a dreadful start this season and are on pace to finish the year with a 20-40 record. To make things worse for fans watching at home, the average time it has taken the Sox to complete a game this year has been 3 hours and 18 minutes, which according to Baseball Reference is the fourth-highest mark in Major League Baseball behind the Astros, Angels, and Pirates.

Lengthy games that have resulted in disappointing losses two-thirds of the time are one thing, but again, to add insult to injury, the majority of Red Sox home games this season have started at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. No other team in baseball is doing this, and some are even starting games earlier than they have in the past since attendance is not an issue for the time being.

I could go on about this issue, which you can read more about here,  but what I really found interesting was how Red Sox team president and CEO Sam Kennedy conceded on Wednesday that the late start times for night games at Fenway Park may not have been the best idea in hindsight. 

Appearing on WEEI’s Greg Hill Morning Show earlier Wednesday, Kennedy addressed the issue.

“We talk about scheduling issues each and every day,” he said. “The 7:30 experiment was designed to try and capture the largest television audience possible and given the way the team has played, given maybe the nature of the pandemic with people being home more, perhaps that wasn’t the right decision. We’ll see as we go forward here.”

When asked about moving games up in order to avoid playing at the same time as the Bruins or Celtics, Kennedy said, ” Because we play every day, it is really hard for us to adjust on the fly. We have done that in years past. But, sometimes you find yourselves in a situation like the Bruins yesterday when they were set to play late in the day and then they played at 11 o’clock in the morning given the overtime game.”

In his closing statement, Kennedy emphasized how fluid things have been in terms of scheduling since the 2020 MLB season began last month. While some teams like the Red Sox are closing in on 20 games played, other teams like the Cardinals have only played five due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their ranks.

“We’re literally in a day-to-day situation over here trying to work our way through what is a highly unusual season,” he stated. “Yes, we do talk about changes to the schedule and being flexible.”

If the Red Sox continue to fall out of contention as they are on pace to do, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for any schedule adjustments to be made, if there are any at all.