Thursday, May 26

Pitching Patience: Red Sox vs. Cubs

I don’t know anything about baseball, but my husband is a Red Sox fan and Saturday’s game against the Cubs was an historic moment. The Red Sox, members of the American League haven’t played the National League, Chicago Cubs since 1918. I tried very hard to pay close attention to all nine innings and I concluded that the sport of baseball could use a few changes.
Cubs Manager Mike Quade asking Carlos Zambrano if he was ok to continue pitching in the sixth inning is exactly like me asking my eight year old if she’s ok to go to a birthday party when she has a fever. Of course, Zambrano said yes and next at bat, Red Sox player Jacoby Ellsbury smashed a fast ball into the right field quickly followed with a hit by Dustin Pedroia. Quade finally removed Zambrano in the bottom of the sixth which was obviously needed two runs before.   
A general word of advice, from fashion to sports, if you have to ask, you already know the answer. To managers everywhere, if it’s the second time you find yourself running out to the mound, you already know what the pitcher is going to say. Unless of course you are working on a new secret strategy to fake out the batter or more likely you are just trying to waste time and giving the pitcher a rest.
The on field, time wasting, dilly dallying is a problem unto itself. In the eighth inning, no one was impressed or fooled (even me) when Red Sox pitcher Matt Albers tried to pick off the runner on first base with his first throw against Cubs batter Carlos Ramirez. On his seventh and tenth pitch to Ramirez, he tried to pick off runners again faking a throw to third and first. On his twelfth pitch, Albers walked Ramirez and I made some coffee. It took exactly 7 minutes and 20.5 seconds to complete Ramirez’s at bat. Pitch the ball to the batter and let’s get the game moving. That was just a lot of messing around and by the way, it was bed time for a lot of us. There was an amusing play in the eighth inning that included Soriano, Varitek, Youkilis and countless other Red Sox players that resembled the general melee at my son’s T-ball games. I missed most of it though, because I was trying to find some Kahlua for my coffee.
For goodness sake, someone call out the white elephant in the room. The game is just too darn slow. I do my best to watch the game with my husband, but it’s a lot of shuffling around with bursts of activity in between. There are moments of excitement, but potential suspense is slowly deflated as the players wander into position and everyone from the catcher to the manager takes a turn chatting on the field. By the time something interesting has happened I’ve lost interest and left the room.
There’s an obvious fix. A rule needs to be instituted that requires the pitcher to finish chatting and the batter to complete all rituals within a total of 3 1/2 minutes or they’re both off the field. Worst case scenario, that’s 30 seconds for each of the four balls and three strikes. Imagine a game of nine long innings. If all nine batters hit in all nine innings the game would last 31 ½ minutes making the whole game a whopping 283 ½ minutes. That’s 4 hours, 7 minutes and 25 seconds. No sport should require this much math. I had to use a calculator. Can you blame me for losing interest? 
I haven’t gone into the details of how the 3 ½ minutes is divided between the pitcher and the batter, someone who understands the sport should do that. If that idea flops then how about a time limit between pitches? It wouldn’t hurt the sport of baseball to make this small gesture to fans and especially moms, new to the game. Consider it a reward for shuttling children to baseball practice and patiently trying to sit through a game that lasts 4 hours, 7 minutes and 25 seconds.

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