Jet Lag Study Suggests MLB Travel Change

New study says jet lag effects pitchers the most.

New study says jet lag effects pitchers the most.


Dr. Richard Besser, the ABC News Chief Health and Medical Director, appeared on Good Morning America today, Thursday, January 25, 2017 to summarize findings from a recent study of jet lag effects upon Major League Baseball.

The Problem

The most general conclusions were that the worst effects of jet lag fell upon the backs of east coast clubs as they flew from west to east, returning home from a road trip to begin a home stand in the east. The most affected players were the first two game  starters in the new home stand back east.  Early game starters tend to give up more home runs when taking the mound for the first one or two games that follow a west-to-east flight from the west coast to the east coast. Dr. Besser did not clearly attach these HR findings to the second game starters, but it seems implied by his comment that it takes a couple of days for the individual’s biological clock to reset to the new current actual time after a cross-country, coast to coast, west to east flight. Besser’s comments were not particularly illuminating about any differences for visiting clubs flying west to east from the Pacific to Eastern time zone. He said the report offered the same remedial plan for them too.

The Recommendation

Teams should consider sending their starters east a couple of days earlier from the west coast to a game scheduled on the east coast so that their bodies will have the chance to get through the 48-hour jet lag time adjustment. Why not? A handful of problematic reasons occur as to why a manager wouldn’t want to send some pitchers on to the next faraway game site in advance of the team – and all of them have to do with a player’s level of maturity and proclivity for misadventure into areas that are far more threatening to success than jet lag. If a player can handle the advance trip responsibly, , or if the team can afford to also send a “keeper” companion on the early trip with those pitchers who need this kind of attention, the suggestion could be worth a try.

What is Jet Lag?

According to Dr. Besser, the various functions of the body are controlled by circadian rhythms within us that anchor our very sense of being to time and space. And that’s a concept that is better understood by example:

According to Besser, if we take a flight from LA at 2:00 PM, PST and we land in New York at 5:00 PM, EST, our bodies are still bio-rhythmically clocked in to 2:00 PM, PST. – We are lagging behind the actual time that exists at our destination by three hours.  That suggests that we are going to have variable trouble with issues like “insomnia, severe daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and unusual mood changes”.

Apparently, the west to east continental flight takes about 48 hours to clear with most people.

The Study Itself

With little research time today, we were able to Google-find the specific name of the jet lag time study performed by researchers at Northwestern University this afternoon. It’s a good read and we highly recommend it, whether you give it a drive-by breezy look or a down in the trenches examination of the player performance details these dedicated people went through in their attempts to measure the presence of jet lag and its effect upon game outcomes.

Here’s the link:

A Closing Loose Thought

The 21st century has turned our world into a 24/7 high-definition pictorial contact culture. With the growth of transformative satellite communication systems, computers, the Internet, the presence of public cameras that put George Orwell’s ancient wild imaginings in the shade, and a cable/satellite system that is now training each of us to always remain in visual/auditory contact with everything instant, from movies to mayhem, we may soon add virtual reality head-gear that will allow us to attend events like the World Series – or New Years Eve in Time Square, or April in Paris, or Christmas in Connecticut ….. without ever leaving our little computer huts at home.

No physical travel from one time zone to the next? No jet lag problem for baseball or anyone else.

We won’t have to worry about jet lag because nobody’s really ever going anywhere in the near future. Who wants to get on an actual flight, go through all the invasive security procedures, travel to someplace where they lose your baggage, then get stuck in a taxi because of the traffic – and just to get to a hotel that lost your reservations and couldn’t even be kind enough to help you find another place to stay while you await a plane home from the event you were forced to miss because you had nothing to wear?

In our virtual world, we won’t have to miss a thing. Only Yogi Berra could have said it much better – with a variant on one his best real lines:

“The real world’s too crowded. – That’s why nobody goes there anymore.” ~ Our Attribution to the Ghost of Yogi Berra.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle



3 Responses to “Jet Lag Study Suggests MLB Travel Change”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    Just another reason to get teams playing the majority of their games in their own time zones! (hint hint: Astros out of the West…Rangers out too for that matter. Two time zones is too much. By the way, some teams have sent starting pitchers ahead, but usually because the next game is a day game following a road night game. Those are rarely scheduled any longer however.

  2. Doug S. Says:

    WTH “According to Besser, if we take a flight from LA at 2:00 PM, PST and we land in New York at 5:00 PM, EST” – time machine stuff or it is a 24 Hr Flight quoted by the DR. as it is 2 PM PST @ 5 PM EST

  3. David Munger Says:

    Something Greg touched on about day games, is it me or do East Coast teams play more day games. I know most getaway games seem to be day games, but do some teams play more day games than others.

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