I am exhausted. With the Yankees playing on the West Coast this past week, the first pitch lands in the catcher’s mitt just when I’m thinking about hitting the hay. And then when you add the NBA Finals and the late night hockey games into the schedule, especially the triple overtime Bruins/Blackhawks game, I’m getting to bed way too late and way too jazzed to fall asleep right away. So as the clock ticked past midnight again, I thought to myself, Are baseball games taking longer than usual? Or am I just getting older and crankier? (Wait, don’t answer that.)
Being a Yankee fan, I am used to a Yankees/Red Sox game lasting forever (see my blog entry from September 2011 https://lifebehindenemylines.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/yankees-red-sox-infinitas/). But even in a Seattle/Kansas City game, the game is stretched. Batters put on a show between every pitch, not just when stepping up to the plate. The hitter’s got to retighten his batting gloves, spit, dig in, tug at his shirt sleeve, readjust his package, ferociously blink, talk to God, whatever. A Turrets convention has fewer tics. And on the mound, some pitchers are guilty of holding the ball in their glove until it sprouts roots.
Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe recently wrote an excellent piece on why the game of baseball is longer now than it was decades ago. (http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/06/08/why-baseball-games-take-long/wikaeRMGatBDGDefpbFE1H/story.html) Fifty years ago, the average game was around 2 hours, 25 minutes. In 2012, the average game is 2 hours, 56 minutes. A typical Yankees/Red Sox game is now 3 hours, 19 minutes! (And guess which MLB team on average plays the longest games—the Red Sox, coming in at 3 hours, 11 minutes.) But being a baseball fan, you know what you are signing up for: a game that moves slowly but is still full of tension. Yet in the real world, who’s got three hours plus to spend every day watching a game?!? My solution is to listen to the radio broadcast of the games (good ol’ John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman). That way you can multi-task easier and still get the gist of the national pastime.
So as I listened to yet another pitching change, wondering if baseball’s extra minutes were really that noticeable or annoying, it hit me. Twenty-five extra minutes are painful… when you are losing. As I said, a baseball fan knowingly submits to a game that moves at a slower pace than most other sports. But when your team is playing like a squad that couldn’t make the Little League World Series, then any extra playing-time is excruciating. Listening to the Yanks put men on base only to strand them again and again in an 18-inning loss to Oakland made me feel like I was wasting my time.
Let’s hope the Yankees pitchers don’t feel like their time and efforts are wasted. Let’s hope that the offense breaks out of their slump after this awful West Coast trip. Let’s hope that Girardi can keep this group of players on the right track as we wait for the regulars to come off the DL. With a little more than half the season to go, it’s time to twist an old Yogi-ism–let’s hope it doesn’t get too late too early out there.