“You’re used to getting up at 3am though, aren’t you”?
It’s a comment I’ve received plenty of times over the years and one that will be familiar to all A’s fans in the UK and across Europe. It’s part of the deal in supporting a west coast team; an unavoidable consequence of the time difference that either makes you or breaks you as a fan.
Naturally, for most of us it’s not possible to watch all of the A’s games live when work and other commitments make getting some sleep a necessity. You have to pick and choose your games that you can stay-up/get-up for alongside the blessed relief of day-games in the States that make for much more convenient evening-time viewing for us.
For most (all?) of us, none of this is a consideration during Spring Training. Most of the games are played in the day-time anyway and, much as we love our A’s, staying up for those that are in the early hours is not on the agenda. Pre-season exhibitions are important for the players, not so much for the fans.
However, there is a part to this that does fall under the ‘preparing for the regular season’ title for us.
There comes a point in many Spring Training games when you hit a wall; most of the regulars have been taken out of the game by both teams, the result is immaterial and your bed is calling for you.
At about 10.30pm yesterday that was the case when the A’s were comfortably ahead of the Angels and the process of pointing out all of the fans not wearing masks had gone past annoyance to resigned acceptance of idiots being idiots (compliance seemed much worse at the Angels’ ballpark yesterday than we’ve seen at Hohokam). Logic told you to call it a night, but that’s when watching with others on a Zoom call helps you along.
Call it support, call it peer pressure: there’s always someone willing to coax you into sticking with the next inning and you’re invariably glad that you did. We could have all signed off early last night, but we didn’t and that’s the sort of spirit you need to build up at this time of the year.
The truth is, I’m like many others in never quite “getting used” to getting up at 3am, or some other early time.
If you’ve tried to stay up for it then there’s the ever-present risk of drifting off to sleep and waking to the “MLB.TV This Game is Over” screen. If you’ve tried to get some sleep beforehand then there’s a danger zone at the point when you stop your alarm bleeping where all of your senses are telling you to go back to sleep.
You have to power through and, when Opening Night comes along, we’ll be glad of the moments during Spring that helped us build up the willpower to do just that.
The stay-up/get-up dilemma
On that note, discussion did turn to this age-old dilemma during the game last night. The A’s regular season opener on Thursday April 1st is a 3.07am start for us and whilst Good Friday allows us all to catch up on sleep the “following” day, the question is what is the best way to approach it?
For me, west coast night-games are “get-up” affairs. Catching 4+ hours of sleep beforehand helps me to ‘stay in the game’ (i.e. not fall asleep again) provided I can get through the aforementioned ‘danger zone’ when my phone alarm goes off and there’s a voice in my head saying “you could just catch up on it later”. Trying to “stay-up” all the way through never seems to work for me, but each to their own.
The home-opener is an exception this season as the A’s have decided to change their usual start times and bring them forward by 30 minutes. The usual 3.07am start will now be a 2.40am start, which sounds a small difference but does mean games on average should finish half-an-hour earlier.
The official A’s UK Sleep Pattern Science Research Experiment for 2021 therefore will be assessing the viability, desirability and effectiveness of trying to get another hour or so of sleep after the A’s game has finished.
We shall keep you updated with our findings!