You Blew It! Play Ball — Faster, Please

Posted: May 11, 2014 12:01 AM
You Blew It! Play Ball — Faster, Please

“This is one of the most critical issues facing baseball — why does the game take so long?”

– Red Sox executive

I grew up on baseball and still enjoying watching it on TV or going to a Yankees game in the Bronx. But today’s game is taxing my interest; it’s taking so long. The only reason I go to a game these days is to have a long conversation with a friend — not to watch the game.

My kids don’t even bother; they lost interest a long time ago. They are football and basketball fans.

I recently watched a classic Yankees baseball game on TV played in the late 1970s. Ron Guidry was the pitcher. The game flew by quickly, taking less than two hours. Guidry didn’t waste any time throwing his pitches, nor did the batters spend time stepping away from the plate and going through a routine of fixing their batting gloves and helmet, etc.

Today pitchers pace around the mound, while batters step out of the box excessively. Pitching changes occur so frequently that the average game now goes beyond three hours. Add in the decision this year to review close calls with instant replay cameras, and concern is mounting about the risk of four-hour ball games.

Umpires have tried to speed up the game by widening the strike zone, but that move has unintended consequences — a record number of strikeouts. During Guidry’s playing career in the 1970s, it took 2 ½ minutes to put a ball into play; now it’s every 3 ½ minutes.

No wonder young people are losing interest in “America’s pastime.” Unless Major League Baseball does something, such as subjecting slow players to fines, baseball will indeed be past its time.