AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Baseball fans are amped up for Game 6 of the World Series tonight at Fenway Park in Boston. The Red Sox hope to win at home for the first time since 1918, and the city is bracing for fans to go bonkers. As Sox slugger David Ortiz put it, it's going to be wild. NPR's Tovia Smith reports the Red Sox's long, dramatic worst-to-first season has left Boston fans feeling both fortunate and fatigued.
TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: This is one of those things the term humble brag was invented for. We are so tired watching our team in the playoffs every night, and now, the World Series, too?
JENNIFER RUGANI: Yes. We try and cut it off at a certain inning, but it's so hard to stop watching it.
SMITH: Jennifer Rugani(ph) from Newton says the Sox success is taking a toll on her and her kids who are 7 and 9. They've stayed up past midnight on school nights watching games on TV and one at Fenway and have suffered a few, rough mornings after.
RUGANI: With these back-to-back games, it's tough on these guys. Friday was a rough day last week.
SARAH HEGER: Ryan(ph), did you stay up for the game?
HEGER: Yeah. Are you tired today?
RYAN: No. Not really. I didn't get tired at all.
SMITH: You wouldn't except kids like these at the Ward Elementary School to admit it, so their teacher Sarah Heger(ph) says you know it's serious when some actually do.
HEGER: A couple of kids were complaining today at recess about being really tired because of the Red Sox.
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SMITH: These kids who watch to the very end of Game 5 asked that their names not be used, but let's just say I didn't have to go very far to record them negotiating bedtime with their mother.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: I'm not going to be exhausted, Mom.
SMITH: You're 8 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: I'm almost 9. Is that an error? No.
SMITH: You might say the error was mine to ever negotiate with fanatics.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: (Singing) What, what, what, what...
SMITH: But they made a good case about history in the making, and they made promises of doing homework early and getting up without a fuzz, so we all agreed on 9:00, until 9:00 rolled around.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Wait, 9:00? What?
SMITH: Major League Baseball says scheduling games during primetime on weeknights is meant to maximize viewers across time zones, that, of course, maximizes revenues but also frustration among fans of all ages.
RON SAINT-BERNARD: I'm 54, and I'm in bed by 10:00.
SMITH: You're not watching?
SAINT-BERNARD: I can't. I got to get up at 5:30.
SMITH: That's Newton postman Ron Saint-Bernard(ph).
SAINT-BERNARD: I - because I know my body. I can't - I need my sleep. I'll be a wreck.
DR. DENNIS ROSEN: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it affects your ability to process things, your cognitive faculties. It can affect your immune system. It affects your...
SMITH: This being Boston, there is no shortage of medical experts on sleep deprivation like Dennis Rosen, who's a doctor at Children's Hospital.
ROSEN: And a Sox fan, yup.
SMITH: He's also the father of a 10-year-old, which explains his expert medical opinion.
ROSEN: That it's OK to watch Game 6, yes. Yes, it is. You know, they'll have plenty of time to catch up on their sleep tomorrow or the next day, and that'll be fine. Provided, of course, that the Red Sox win.
SMITH: Ooh. Right. Otherwise, cranky doesn't begin to describe it.
SMITH: Best case scenario, says Newton mom Jennifer Rugani, the Sox win it in six, avoiding Game 7 tomorrow. She says, tonight, she probably won't even try getting her kids to bed before it's over.
RUGANI: I mean, it's the World Series. You got to watch the game.
SMITH: Now you sound like them.
RUGANI: I know. This is why I have a hard time. It's so exciting.
SMITH: As one parent put it, six months ago, our kids were glued to the TV and not sleeping because the Boston bomber was on the loose. Now, if they're losing sleep over baseball, he says, I'm fine with that. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.
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