Time for 'Late Night with ... Baseball'

Dear Boss:

I'm sorry about being so foggy during the goals meeting, and I certainly didn't mean to nod off during your presentation. But the Mets and Yankees keep going way past midnight. Let's hope this thing ends soon so I can get some rest.

Move over "Sleepless in Seattle." The Big Apple is dragging.

This city may never sleep, to paraphrase one slogan, but it certainly is in need of a nap. After the third night of the "subway series," New Yorkers are yawning their way to the office, trying to persuade teachers that recess is not passe, and turning off the fluorescent lights ... you know, to save energy.

"It's brutal. I'm operating at half speed here," says Peter Roche, normally a high-energy publicist.

New Yorkers, however, are a resourceful breed. Instead of reading the paper, Alex Giasa, another publicist, now sleeps during his bus ride from New Jersey. He figures he gets another 39 to 40 minutes' sleep.

Nicholas Lucente, a Mets fan, is joking about using more-extreme measures: "I'll use electroshock therapy - I have to stay awake for the games."

Some New York employers are taking an understanding attitude. At Kaplan Test Preparation and Admissions, for example, the company is offering the use of a "comfort room," a room with a cot and easy chair, for anyone who is feeling fatigued.

In addition, the company expects that some of its 300 employees may arrive at work a bit late. "We don't have any formal policy in place. We're just looking the other way," says John Polstein, company president. "It's not easy being a New Yorker these days."

It's even harder for baseball fans who live on a different continent. That's the case in Spain, where Mike Elkin, a freelance journalist, watches the games live at a local Irish pub. He takes a siesta around 8 or 9 p.m., gets up at midnight, and heads out with other expats to watch the 2 a.m. start. On Tuesday night (a Mets win), he didn't get to bed until 6:30 a.m. Getting any work done the next day is tough, he admits.

Naps and late arrivals may help an employee, but they don't necessarily help the employer. Since Wall Street is a major employer in New York, investors are being advised to check the accuracy of their trades this week.

"We know what happens when you're sleepy - error rates are up and you won't be as sharp," says Richard Gelula, executive director of the National Sleep Foundation.

That's not news to Jack Walsh, who heads the New York office of Spherion, a professional recruiting company. He says some workers are coming in "with less vim and vigor than they usually do."

In fact, with both Mets and Yankees fans in the office, Spherion illustrates a dilemma facing employers: keeping morale up for the losing side. Already, Yankee fans in the office have hung up a small banner. No matter which team wins, he expects wholesale desertions for the ticker-tape parade. "What they will do is sneak out, have a long lunch," he says.

Part of the problem is that the games seem interminable. Game 1 on Saturday night went extra innings and set a new World Series record: 4 hours, 51 minutes, ending at 1:04 a.m. Sunday.

For Vicky Parks, the late game presented a challenge: She and her family had to leave for a wedding on Long Island at 7 a.m. Sunday. A nap helped get her through the nuptials, which were notable because her uncle insisted on wearing his Yankees hat after the ceremony. "I think he did it because my cousins are Mets fans," she says.

The long games and late starts are particularly hard on children. Steve and Marjorie Shapiro of Larchmont, N.Y., made a deal with their 10-year-old, Eddie, an enthusiastic Mets fan. He can stay up until 10:30 p.m. and then listen to the rest of the game on the radio under the covers.

"In 10 minutes, he's out," says his dad.

But many parents are upset that the games are starting just when many young children go to bed. "It's most disturbing that Major League Baseball forces parents to keep their kids up after midnight so the kids can enjoy the World Series," says Paul Entin, father of a two-year-old.

But Mr. Entin, publisher of FitnessLink, a health and fitness Web site, adds, "I thoroughly enjoyed it when my son wanted to watch the game with daddy and eventually fell asleep on my lap. He already understands the World Series is a special occasion."

P.S. Boss: Let's not schedule any morning meetings for the next week.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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