I'm fully ensconce in baseball season having caught almost all of the first 6 Red Sox games. That streak should end tomorrow as the game is scheduled to start around the time I grab lunch at work. Probably some of the biggest news to come from the first six games is that Umpire Joe West called the Red Sox-Yankees games a "disgrace to baseball" due to the slow pace of their games.
His exact quote was:
"They're two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?" West asked the New Jersey Bergen Record. "It's pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play."
I'm going to join the party and call Joe West a disgrace to baseball. When you become an umpire, you sign on to be in the background of the entertainment, not the foreground. Putting that aside, maybe he should take a minute to think about why the games are slow:
- National Television = More Commercials - The Red Sox-Yankees games, as baseball's biggest rivalry, are almost always on national television. Several players have said they were ready to bat, but they had to wait for commercials that aren't part of local television.
- High On-Base Percentage - I heard today that the Red Sox-Yankees are tied for having the two best on-base percentages over the last few years. More base runners means longer games. Each guy that reaches base is one that didn't get out... and the pitcher has to start again with a new hitter. Pitchers also work slower with men on base.
- Hitters are patient - The Red Sox and Yankees have some of the most patient hitters in the game. They take a lot of pitches until they find the ones they want. Combine that with the high on-base percentage and pitchers are going to get tired by throwing a lot of pitches... cue the pitching change and more commercials. The Red Sox - Yankees games of last week saw each team average using 5 pitchers a game.
In the end, if Joe West wants quick games of baseball, he can umpire me and a few friends play against either the Red Sox and Yankees. I guarantee they'll strike us out quite quickly. There's a reason why games of chess between two great opponents take time.
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