Like the rest of you – well, not the rest of you but those who don’t work and those who prefer to sleep in – I have been watching MLB’s postseason in the middle of the day and the middle of the night.
I don’t want to say the games are interminable, but my goal is to write this entire column during pitching changes alone.
Here’s the thing:
A baseball game should not last longer than a Bruce Springsteen concert. Plus, musically speaking, all you get at the game is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which – no disrespect intended to those patriotic ditties – does not really measure up to the best of The Boss.
As we all know, baseball does not have a clock. This means a baseball game can, theoretically, never end.
Eventually, this will happen.
In the Nationals-Dodgers National League Division Series, the five games took 3 hours 46 minutes, 3:55, 4:12, 3:44 and 4:32. That’s an average of more than four hours per contest, and none of them went extra innings.
The games ran so long in Washington, the rail system couldn’t even take the fans home. For real – D.C.’s Metrorail shuts down by 12 a.m., so many Nationals fans had to make like Dodgers fans and stream out of the stadium in the seventh inning.
In the series-deciding Game 5, the seventh inning alone took 1 hour 6 minutes – the Nationals used six pitchers in the inning. Which points to one of the culprits in lengthening these contests: These days, everyone is a specialist and it’s all about matchups; eventually, we might have routine mid-batter pitching changes – each team will have a reliever who is the go-to guy on a 3-1 count.
(By the way, have you watched the new Fox drama “Pitch,” about the first woman to pitch in MLB? It’s scheduled to air on Thursdays between 9 and 10 p.m. ET, but, because of commercials, pitching changes and replay reviews, it often runs past midnight.)
In addition to the pitching changes, the playoff pitchers themselves are slowing down the game. Dodgers pitchers this season were tied for third in MLB in terms of time between pitches, 24.0 seconds; Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez was the slowest in all of baseball, 30.2 seconds between pitches, and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was third at 27.7 seconds.
This raises two questions:
1. I know, I know, you’re wondering – who keeps these stats? But, hey, it’s good for the economy, unless we’re farming out those jobs overseas, too. If that’s the case, I hate to think there’s some 19-year-old high school dropout in Bangladesh compiling these numbers, sitting there every night with an MLB Extra Innings subscription and a stopwatch.
2. What, in the name of Lefty Grove, is Pedro Baez doing on the mound for 30 seconds between every delivery? Logging each pitch onto his Microsoft Excel app? Shaking off half-a-dozen signs via Facebook? Ordering razors from Dollar Shave Club?
Quite simply, the games are taking forever. And forever is a long time.
Game 3 of the Giants-Cubs NLDS – a 13-inning, 5-hour-and-4-minute affair – ended at 2:45 a.m. ET. I’m sorry, who exactly is sticking around until nearly 3 o’clock in the morning to watch Bruce Bochte make a double switch? As a rule, only two kinds of people are up at that hour – newspaper delivery drivers, and Donald Trump.
Granted, many of the games are good. But we all have our viewing limits. For example, if I were watching, say, Michelangelo paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1508 – and he did terrific work there – I’m guessing I would’ve walked out by the fourth or fifth month.
Alas, baseball is plunging toward an unappetizing, apocalyptic climax. Between a season stretched out too far and the games lasting too long, Couch Slouch believes the snow-delayed 2016 World Series will wrap up in Chicago or Cleveland in mid-November, at 1:17 a.m., in 26-degree weather, on a game-ending walk-off overturned-call replay review.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Will there be a Fantasy Poetry League when your recent petition for realigning communities’ priorities shifts the focus away from big-time football? If so, who in the world is going to bid for Emily Dickinson? (Tom Martella; Washington, D.C.)
A. Actually, if you combined Walt Whitman’s Wonderlic score with his WAR and Player Efficiency Rating, you’d understand why he is a $5 fantasy poetry pick.
Q. Now that Colin Kaepernick is a starter, should opposing teams’ fans sing the national anthem in-game so that he takes a knee during a play? (Leo Gillis; Sterling, Virginia)
A. I have forwarded your sublime idea to all NFC West defensive coordinators.
Q. What is Trey Wingo’s real name? (Marty Fein; Atlanta)
A. Trey Wingo.
Q. When will Statcast – powered by Amazon Web Services – give us the exit velocity of the words leaving Bob Costas’ mouth? (Don Frese; Hobe Sound, Florida)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Norman Chad is a syndicated columnist. You, too, can enter his $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email email@example.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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