Robert Gignac, the assistant meat manager at Hannaford supermarket in Falmouth, started off strong during Game 1 of the World Series, taking in stride the late nights expected of a Red Sox fan and the early wake-up required for the morning shift at work.
“It was Game 1. I had to stay up,” said Gignac, 31.
But by Game 2, the start times had begun to take their toll. Gignac, who handles sharp blades for a living, had to be to work at 5:15 a.m. on Thursday. He fell asleep in the seventh inning of Game 2 in front of the TV.
“I had a hard time keeping awake. I was dozing a lot,” he said Friday, standing at the meat counter at work with bleary eyes. “A lot of stuff, I did early in the morning, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later when I got tired.”
This is the dilemma for Red Sox fans: Stay up late and pay the price at work the next day or get a good night’s rest and risk missing something historic.
The first pitch of each game is scheduled for after 8 p.m. Eastern time. Every game but one will be on a night before a traditional work day. And the Red Sox are no strangers to four-hour, tension-filled games, even if the first two games were relatively short.
For Gignac, the dilemma gets worse. He starts his new assignment at Hannaford’s Gorham store at 4 a.m. Sunday, just hours after the first of three back-to-back games in St. Louis on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.
“Oh boy, that’s going to be rough,” Gignac said.
For William Cashman, president of Glidden Roofing in Scarborough, the answer is easy, even though he’s due into work at 7 a.m. each day, just like his employees.
“Of course I’m going to stay up and watch,” Cashman said. “You just get an extra cup of coffee and grind it out.”
The last couple of times the Red Sox were in the World Series, in 2004 and 2007, Cashman was a little younger and could bounce back a little more quickly from lack of sleep.
“I’m 45 now, so I pay for it,” he said.
Might employers pay the price, too, if their workers stay up late to cheer on the hometown team?
The Chicago-based firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas often surveys productivity in the workplace, including the effects of major sporting events. The top two offenders are the Super Bowl and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, better known as March Madness, but the Major League Baseball playoffs follow close behind.
“Games are mostly played in the evening, but often stretch into the wee hours due to the natural pace of the game and the tendency for competitive match-ups to extend to extra innings,” the research firm’s CEO, John Challenger, said. “Groggy fans, particularly in cities with playoff or World Series teams, may be less productive the day after these prolonged games.”
Game 1 on Wednesday night was played in 3 hours, 17 minutes, which means it ended before 11:30 p.m. Game 2 was even shorter, ending after 3 hours, 5 minutes. But those were atypically short games. In the Red Sox’ previous 10 playoff games, the average length was 3 hours, 45 minutes. The shortest was Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Tampa Bay, at 3 hours, 14 minutes. The longest games was Game 3 of that series – 4 hours, 19 minutes.
The last two times the Red Sox reached the World Series, though, the average length of playoff games was longer.
In 2007, the team played a total of 14 games in an average of 3 hours, 47 minutes. That average was brought down by a brisk 2-hour, 27-minute Game 1 of the American League Division Series. The Sox won 4-0 behind a complete game shutout.
In 2004, when the Red Sox broke a decades-long curse by winning their first World Series in 86 years, the average length of the 14 playoff games was 4 hours, 7 minutes. Game 4 of the epic American League Championship Series against the team’s archrival New York Yankees lasted 5 hours, 2 minutes. Game 5 lasted 5 hours, 49 minutes. Both games went into extra innings and ended in Red Sox wins.
The longest World Series game ever played was Game 3 of the 2005 series between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. It lasted 5 hours, 41 minutes.
Chip Desmond, who was among a dozen workers repaving a section of Pleasant Street in Brunswick on Thursday morning, said he stayed up to watch Game 1 even though he had to be on the job at 7 a.m. and had to get up by 6 a.m.
“It was worth it, because they won,” he said. “It’s a little harder to stay up when they lose, you know?”
Desmond, 27, said he’s still young enough to go a few nights without the obligatory eight hours sleep, but “back-to-back late nights are hard.”
“If all the games are in the three-hour range, I’ll be happy with that,” he said.
While Challenger, Gray & Christmas asserts that sporting events contribute to a less productive workplace, there are other schools of thought.
OfficeTeam, a staffing service, released a survey earlier this year before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament suggesting that employees’ strong interest in sports can lead to better morale and, in turn, better job performance. Of the 1,000 managers surveyed, less than 10 percent said the tournament has a negative effect on workplace productivity, while 16 percent of managers said the effect was positive. The remaining 75 percent noticed no impact.
Patrick Coughlin, an environmental consultant who lives in Brunswick, watched Game 1 through the eighth inning, even though he’s not a die-hard fan and had a presentation at 7 a.m.
“It actually worked out good. I was going over my notes while the game was on,” he said. “If it hadn’t been on, I might have just gone to bed.”
But in the lunch crowd in Portland’s Monument Square on Friday, the reactions were mixed.
Lee Morin, a 35-year-old Scarborough resident who works in finance in downtown Portland, said the World Series’ late night schedule unfairly caters to the West Coast fan base.
“I can’t stay up late to watch those late games,” said Morin, eating lunch at the Public Market. “You just can’t have a professional life and be a fan of a professional sports team. If I worked second shift or third shift, I’d be all over it.”
For Dave MacElhiney of Westbrook, who watched the first two games of the series, getting up for work isn’t the struggle, it’s getting up on his daughter Porter’s schedule.
“I’m at work at 7:30 a.m., but I have a 3½-year-old who is an early riser at 5 to 5:15 a.m.,” MacElhiney said. “If they were less interesting games, I would be falling asleep during the game, but it was kind of edge-of-the-seat both games.”
Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:
Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at: