Game three of the ALCS gave all the proof you need about why games take four hours to play…and why some of us go to bed dreaming about the way it used to be.
Many of you baseball fans know by now that the Toronto Blue Jays spent much of Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS complaining about more tough pitches being called strikes on them…than there were tough pitches being called on the Cleveland Indians.
Joey Bautista was particularly vocal in his contempt, and if you watched game three, with veteran umpire Tom Gorman behind the plate, you got a pretty graphic example of the old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
There were no fewer than a half dozen pitches thrown by Cleveland pitchers (after starter Trevor Bauer’s finger fell off) that K-Zone showed to be on the low outside corner…and Gorman refused to call them strikes. Advantage Bautista, apparently.
Of course, the Indians ultimately won the game. And to Gorman’s credit he didn’t call many strikes on the Indians’ hitters, either. So fair’s fair in that respect.
But by not calling strikes he made a perfectly good 2 hour and 10 minute baseball game last 3 and a half hours…and drove me to bed in the top of the eighth inning.
Look! They complain every year about how long the baseball games take to play. They install clocks on the field to time between pitches. They forbid hitters to step out of the box. They experiment with the number of warmup pitches between innings. They do everything…but address the obvious. CALL MORE STRIKES AND THE GAME GETS OVER, QUICKER!
That’s right. Get a pair behind the plate, call more close pitches, up, down, in and out, and hitters get the idea. Either swing the bat, put the ball in play, or you’re going to be called out and you go sit down. PERIOD!
Of course, I come from a generation of “absolutism” so my attitude is going to be viewed with fear of referees doing their job with dictatorial contempt and without respect for political correctness. But if you’ve never officiated you wouldn’t understand the concept, anyway. You dictate the terms of the game…and the coaches and players will adjust.
That is, they will swing the bats, the game becomes more interesting, you’ll see more plays being made in the field, and you’ll see young pitchers blossom when they’re not made to thread the eye of a needle with a baseball from 60 feet, 6 inches.
As it is, major league baseball grades its umpires on each individual pitch and they fear for their lives and livelyhood. One retired major league umpire who worked during my generation told me flatly last winter, “I’m glad I got out when I did. It’s not much fun now.”
In the meantime you can go to bed and dream about how the game used to be…when you could plan your day around a two-hour game, without concern about television revenues and how many ads the networks can sell and justify.
And, if you’re a true fan you can face the inevitable. Greed and commercialism has screwed up a very good thing…and some very good people trying to play and officiate baseball.
If you don’t believe me….just take five minutes and see for yourself on the replay monitor.