Friday, April 9, 2010

Batter up

How dare Joe West challenge the right of Derek Jeter to perform his ritual before each and every pitch. Who is this umpire to speak with such disregard about the pace of the games played by the Yankees and Red Sox? What right does he have to ask that the boys of summer speed it up?

I LOVE baseball and I do understand the inherent appeal of not punching a time clock. Our lives are filled with deadlines and time constraints. One of the things that separates baseball from all other sports is its absence of defined pace. I spend more quality time with my children and friends at the Stadium than almost anywhere else. There is ample opportunity to discuss the game, the weather, politics, social situations or anything and everything that comes to mind. The problem is that you sometimes feel that all of this can be accomplished between pitches.

Over the years, the time when night games begin has moved up. This has to be attributable, at least in part, to the increased length of each game. I do recall when the possibility of a 2 hour game existed. Now, it seems like the Yankee- Red Sox games are in the middle of the 5th inning when this mark is passed.

I remember when stepping out of the batter's box between pitches only occurred as a matter of emergency, not habit. Catchers did not wear out the grass between home plate and the pitcher's mound addressing how they were going to pitch to a particular batter, and then do it again with the next batter. Pitchers did not leave the mound to wander, to pray, to gather their thoughts.

I want to be able to think that I have the capacity to watch the end of night games live, and not just the highlights on the next morning's cable show. I would like for the kids who are fans to have some opportunity to see Mariano Rivera before their bedtime has to be extended for hours.

Would the beauty of the game be diminished if we established and enforced basic codes of conduct, and adequate penalties for failure to comply? If there were restrictions on stepping out of the batters-box, on stepping off the mound, on conferences which involve the catcher, the pitcher, and seemingly everyone else on the field except the manager and the pitching coach, on time between pitches, and on the myriad of other almost ritualistic behaviors that combine to S L O W the pace of the game to a crawl, would this offend us?

I often give myself a self-imposed 2 hour limit on the time period I stay at night games after they commence. Except in rare instances, this means I leave my seat, exit the Stadium, walk to my car, travel across the George Washington Bridge, and get home, often in time to watch the last inning or 2 of the game from the comfort of my living room.

Maybe if they started the games at 5PM, I could stay until conclusion. Or maybe, just maybe, if the words of Joe West were taken to heart, I would be able to view, in person, Mariano throw that same pitch that he has thrown so many thousands of times to overwhelmed batters over the past 15 seasons. For now, it is the game itself that continues to swing and miss at the opportunity to step up to the plate.


Shirley said...

dead eyes

Robert said...

that's funny (and an inside joke)