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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Posnanski: No runs, no hits, no action

BRING BACK THE ROIDS

Friday night there were six shutouts in baseball. Six. In 1996, that was like a month’s worth. There have been 96 shutouts in baseball already this year and we’re barely a quarter way into the season. At this pace, there would be close to 400 shutouts in total. That would be a Major League record….

This week, I had someone in baseball offer an elegant theory about what’s happening in baseball. His theory goes something like this:

1. Pitchers are overthrowing like crazy because 100 mph fastballs are the way to the big leagues and stardom.

2. Hitters are striking out like crazy because they’re facing more 100 mph pitches than ever.

3. Pitchers are breaking down because arms — except the most freakish of arms — cannot sustain the tension of throwing 100 mph.*...

But there is something about the way baseball is being played now that is bothersome. It’s kind of hard to put into words but, generally speaking, I think baseball has lost its rhythm. Runs are way down … but games are taking longer to play than ever before. The point here is not to be the latest to yammer about how long baseball games take to play — a brisk, beautifully played three hour game is one of life’s great pleasures — but instead to yammer about how baseball seems have lost its cadence. The game is supposed to be leisurely, but these days it’s positively stagnant.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 17, 2014 at 10:18 PM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: joe posnanski, offense

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   1. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:53 AM (#4709002)
Yes, the version of baseball we currently have is quite boring. But don't worry, baseball is on top of it. They have expanded replay. Just in case something mildly interesting happens, we can all stand around and watch it. Problem solved.

Seriously, I used to watch a game every day. Now that sounds like punishment. Or a very effective sleep aid.
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 18, 2014 at 01:36 AM (#4709008)
Why would a Royals fan want 1996 back? I could see why a Braves fan would, but the Braves didn't give up many runs, now did they?
   3. Davo Dozier Posted: May 18, 2014 at 02:15 AM (#4709017)
I'm only a baseball fan. Have any of the other televised sports implemented changes that have shortened the length of their games?
   4. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 18, 2014 at 02:55 AM (#4709022)
I'm only a baseball fan. Have any of the other televised sports implemented changes that have shortened the length of their games?


The NFL shortened their halftime break a few years ago.
   5. bobm Posted: May 18, 2014 at 03:05 AM (#4709023)
[3]

FTFA:
Fans can enjoy watching their own team win ugly. But often the teams efforts to win creates a much less enjoyable game. In hockey a few years ago, teams — particularly the New Jersey Devils — began to use the neutral zone trap to limit scoring. It was very effective. It also made hockey almost unwatchable. From what I understand the NHL made some subtle changes (they called penalties like interference more often) and not-subtle changes (they lifted the ban on the two-line pass) to make the game more fun for the fans. And it is more fun now.

Pat Riley began a similar trend in the NBA when he got his New York Knicks to play a bruising, ponderous style. It sort of worked — the Knicks won 50-plus games ever year under Riley — but it was impossibly boring basketball for everyone but Knicks fans. And scoring went way down and down and down in the NBA. Again the league stepped in with a few small rules changes and by calling the game bit more tightly which took away some of the advantages of that grueling style.

I’m not saying baseball needs to change rules to make the games move at a better pace. In fact, I know they don’t. There’s one on the books already that would do the job. In fact, there are two.


And

But it’s a spectator sport, and so they put in these rules to make sure that the players did not ruin the rhythm of baseball. And then, they ignored the rules and let the players ruin the rhythm of baseball.

By rules already on the books, each pitch should probably be delivered 10 seconds faster. Games, by rule, should be taking 45 or 50 less minutes without losing one bit of action. I have a weird theory that probably doesn’t make any sense to anyone else that some of the arm problems of pitchers relates to the painfully slow pace of play. Pitchers load up for every pitch like it is 2-and-2 to Harvey Kuenn with a perfect game on the line. I think throwing 100 pitches today, with all that delay time between and with each pitch analyzed and scrutinized and disected, is a whole lot different from 1975, when pitchers would just bleeping get the ball and pitch it.

Then again, that theory might just be me wanting to believe that if they sped up the baseball so that flowed again every single problem would disappear — in and out of baseball. I know that’s not true. But I do believe that a brisker game would be so much more fun to watch. The lack of runs doesn’t bother me. I’ll take a 2-1 baseball game any day — but not if it’s a three and a half hour 2-1 baseball game where I spend most of the evening watching major league baseball players do absolutely nothing.
   6. rufus was here Posted: May 18, 2014 at 07:31 AM (#4709031)
Agree 100% with Pos. Time between pitches is often absurdly long. Get in the box, stay in the box. And pitch the ball. When you watch historic games it's one of the first things that stands out -- how much the pace has slowed.
   7. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 18, 2014 at 07:44 AM (#4709033)
Time between pitches is often absurdly long. Get in the box, stay in the box. And pitch the ball. When you watch historic games it's one of the first things that stands out -- how much the pace has slowed.

The problem is that players today are so psychologically programed to step out of the box between pitches to adjust their batters' gloves that it would almost seem like heroin withdrawal to forbid the practice. Maybe they should just try the indirect approach and ban the use of those gloves.

Meanwhile, this 1950 game should serve as an inspiration for those who like both lots of runs and a speedy pace. And yes, the game was televised.
   8. Coot Veal and Cot Deal's cols=“100” rows=“20” Posted: May 18, 2014 at 08:57 AM (#4709039)
Meanwhile, this 1950 game should serve as an inspiration for those who like both lots of runs and a speedy pace. And yes, the game was televised.


that's astonishing - 36 runs, 34 hits, 21 walks and a game time of 2:50!
   9. frannyzoo Posted: May 18, 2014 at 09:48 AM (#4709046)
I know there are other factors, such as my Internet Short-Attention Span Disorder (ISASD...soon to be in the DSM), but I've found watching four separate games on mlb.tv to be engaging viewing. Two simultaneous games is mildly boring. One game is beyond stultifying.

Someone asked me the other day how I could keep up with four simultaneous games. It's an indictment of the current game to find out just how easy it is to do so.
   10. BDC Posted: May 18, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4709048)
Agree 100% with Poz and everyone else.

On reason for the dilatory play is that there really is a lot on the line. Relief pitchers take a long time because each batter could have a significant impact on their ERA, and that makes the difference between signing for a million or more next year and riding a bus in the Upper Peninsula League. But although we realize the stakes for them, we're also paying to watch a fun game. They won't make that million if people stop watching. People are still watching, so perhaps the concern is premature, but there has to be a tipping point of boredom out there somewhere.
   11. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 18, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4709050)
Before the Jays game yesterday, they ran a Top 10 list (best regular season performances by a Blue Jay player).
In that list was Roy Halladay's one-hitter in his second appearance ever (September 27, 1998 - he gave up a 9th-inning, 2-out HR to Higginson).
Check out the game time in the box score: 1hr 45min

Can you possibly imagine a game being played that quickly nowadays?

The joy of yesterday's Jays win was watching Buerhle work. He doesn't waste any time.
   12. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4709058)
The joy of yesterday's Jays win was watching Buerhle work. He doesn't waste any time.


And as long as Joe was going to throw out his thoroughly unsupported theory, you'd think he'd have noted the fact that the league's fastest-working pitcher is pretty much its healthiest.
   13. Hippo Vaughn is my hero Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4709070)
Agree 100% with Pos and with Rufus. As Tom Selleck said in Mr Baseball, "baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun." That is, fun for the spectators as well since it is entertainment. Has not been fun for the most part for us spectators for some time.
   14. simon bedford Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4709072)
what was less fun was seeing the jays pen not hold the lead yet again, and the shutout on friday was anything but boring
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4709077)
The problem is that players today are so psychologically programed to step out of the box between pitches to adjust their batters' gloves that it would almost seem like heroin withdrawal to forbid the practice. Maybe they should just try the indirect approach and ban the use of those gloves.

Screw 'em. If they step out without time being called, the ump instructs the pitcher to throw, and it's a strike even if it bounce 5 times.

The batters will get the hint quickly. They're supposed to be world class athletes. If they can't adjust, there's 500 guys in AAA waiting for their jobs.
   16. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4709082)
Meanwhile, this 1950 game should serve as an inspiration for those who like both lots of runs and a speedy pace. And yes, the game was televised.

that's astonishing - 36 runs, 34 hits, 21 walks and a game time of 2:50!


To drive the point home, to this day it remains the highest combined run total in American League history.

And if anyone thinks that game was some sort of a fluke, just three weeks previously, the Red Sox had a 20 to 4 game completed in 2:28, and a 29 to 4 game the next day that was over in 2:42. That one set another still-current record of 29 runs by a winning team.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4709084)
In that list was Roy Halladay's one-hitter in his second appearance ever (September 27, 1998 - he gave up a 9th-inning, 2-out HR to Higginson).
Check out the game time in the box score: 1hr 45min


More recently than that, in 2006, Josh Fogg of the Rockies threw a two-hit shutout at the Mariners in 1:52. The cool thing about that game was that it was a night game, but when it was over, it was still light out.
   18. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4709089)
Screw 'em. If they step out without time being called, the ump instructs the pitcher to throw, and it's a strike even if it bounce 5 times.

The batters will get the hint quickly. They're supposed to be world class athletes. If they can't adjust, there's 500 guys in AAA waiting for their jobs.


QFT. Start calling it in Spring Training and they'll be fine by the time the season starts. Basically, make it so that stepping out of the box is not a time out. Only the umpire can call time out. Then if the player gets something in his eye or something he can ask for time. But if not, then the pitcher's free to throw any time he pleases. Within 12 seconds of course.
   19. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4709094)
there is a rule about batters leaving the batters box. Not supposed to happen

And there is a rule about the pitching within a timeframe.

Neither is enforced. The umps might be pushed to enforce the former but are hostile to the latter claiming that they have enough to do without also playing timekeeper

I think pitchers would work faster if batters were kept in the box. It would become very conspicuous for a guy to dawdle if everyone were waiting on the pitch

   20. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4709096)
Yep, and Poz quoted those very rules in TFA. I think we're all agreed that mere enforcement of the existing rules is all that's really needed here.
   21. Sunday silence Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4709098)
There was a baseball book called My Greatest Day in Baseball or something and in it Ty Cobb recounted I believe, an 18-18 tie that was called on account of darkness. I believe it went 19 inn or so. But maybe it didnt count as the record because it ended in a tie and was never made up?

CORRECTION: That was a 9-9 tie that went 17 inn. on sept 30, 1907. Cobb's favorite game from that booked. He hit a 2 run HR to tie it in the 9th, the game ended in a tie and helped Det. clinch the pennant despite losing more games than the As; because the league did not make up tie games, the Tigers won the pennant based on win percentage. There were still 3 games between Det/Phil that were not made up when the season ended.
   22. FrankM Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4709100)
I was at a game - May 31, 2007. Buehrle vs Halladay. Toronto won 2-0. Time of game 1:50.
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4709102)
zeth

News to me about consensus. I either read posts about new rules or some folks mocking the complainers saying it's just fine

Maybe not this thread but other threads

game is not fine. I did not like 1960's baseball and now it's back. With a vengeance
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4709111)
There was a baseball book called My Greatest Day or something and in it Ty Cobb recounted I believe, an 18-18 tie that was called on account of darkness. I believe it went 19 inn or so. But maybe it didnt count as the record because it ended in a tie and was never made up?

That was a 17 inning game at Columbia Park on September 30, 1907, between the Tigers and the A's. It was the last week of the season and the Tigers were clinging to a 1.5 game lead over the home town team in their final meeting of the season.

The A's jumped out to a 7 to 1 lead, but then Cobb tied it in the top of the ninth with a dramatic 2 run homer. After matching single runs in the 11th, neither team scored for the next six innings, and the game was called due to darkness. Since ties back then weren't replayed by makeup games, Cobb said that it clinched the pennant for Detroit.

According to Cobb's account in the book, there were 30,000 spectators at the game: 18,000 seated, another 7,000 jammed into standing room and overflowing the field, and 5,000 more looking on from rooftops and through windows surrounding the old wooden park. Talk about a game with atmosphere.
   25. nick swisher hygiene Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4709116)
23--yup on previous threads "game is fine because $$$ and how could you not want more baseball anyway?" has been the dominant position.
the fix is so easy, but the will to make it seems missing.

dunno, though. Americans seem in love with stop & start sports because
1). Strategy!
2). We're all ####### around on the internet and only half paying attention anyway
   26. PreservedFish Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4709119)
People on this site disagree about the severity of the problems discussed here. But everyone, everyone, wants to speed up the time between pitches.
   27. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 18, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4709126)
It just doesn't seem like there's any downside to speeding up time between pitches. The networks aren't going to lose any advertising because there will still be the same time for breaks between innings, pitching changes, etc.

I guess that trapping people at the park for 4 hours instead of 2.5 probably gets you more concession sales.
   28. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 18, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4709132)
post 26

If so good to hear
   29. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 18, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4709133)
23--yup on previous threads "game is fine because $$$ and how could you not want more baseball anyway?" has been the dominant position.
the fix is so easy, but the will to make it seems missing.


I don't think that's the dominant position. It seems dominant sometimes because it is so obviously wrong, thus annoying, thus noticeable. Kind of like how it seems like the internet is dominated by certain political positions that represent 1% of voters.
   30. theboyqueen Posted: May 18, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4709140)
In 2003 Mulder and Buerhle faced each other three times. The LONGEST of the three went 1:54.
   31. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 18, 2014 at 01:57 PM (#4709143)
That one set another still-current record of 29 runs by a winning team.

Rangers beat the Orioles 30-3 about a half-dozen years ago.
   32. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: May 18, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4709145)
When even the geezers are starting to have an issue with the pace of the game, you know the game has a real problem. Imagine how the typical young Millennial probably feels.
   33. PreservedFish Posted: May 18, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4709150)
The disagreement comes when people assert that the game is now boring or a chore to watch, or that its future is seriously threatened by these concerns. Personally I think those are all exaggerations. But the pace we have now can obviously be improved, and should be.
   34. madvillain Posted: May 18, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4709152)

When even the geezers are starting to have an issue with the pace of the game, you know the game has a real problem. Imagine how the typical young Millennial probably feels.


I'm a millenial and all my 25-35 year old friends that are baseball fans agree -- something has to be done. Baseball is now something you put on when you're doing something else -- laundry, gaming, driving, etc. It's background.

I'm a pretty damn big White Sox fan and I don't "sit down" to watch games anymore I just put it on in the background or catch the highlights. With every game seemingly dragging 3.5 to 4 hours or longer who has the time or interest level to give up so much time every day? There is a huge difference between a crisp, 4-3 game played in under 3 hour and a slow, 4 hour game that ends in the same score.
   35. Sunday silence Posted: May 18, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4709155)
The dominant position is more like: "Baseball is a game played without time limits and that's the beauty of it."

Of course that also begs the question about how long can a game w/o limit go before it becomes ugly not beautiful?
   36. bunyon Posted: May 18, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4709157)
You know the other thing that happens if you minimize time between pitches?

You minimize the amount of blather from the commentators.

Win-win-win, baby.
   37. BDC Posted: May 18, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4709162)
Baseball is a game played without time limits and that's the beauty of it

Although the other way of putting that is that baseball has no clock. But it does arguably have a natural time scale, evolved in the mid-19th-century by men who could get off work in the summer early enough to play for a couple of hours before the sun set. The urban rhythm of the spectator sport is built on that: leave the shop or the office (maybe a bit early), get off the streetcar at the ballpark, enjoy the game for a couple of hours, get back on the streetcar and home not long after dark.

That's evolved into drive around to collect the whole family in the suburbs, drive an hour-and-a-half through rush hour to another suburb or the downtown park, find your seats by the third inning, enjoy the game for a couple of hours, leave in the seventh to beat traffic, drive an hour back home. It's still functional, but there might be ways of making it even more enjoyable, like making it possible to see a whole game in that enjoyment window.
   38. bobm Posted: May 18, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4709166)
From 1914 to 2014, Team Won, sorted by greatest R

                                 
Rk            Date  Tm Opp   Rslt
1    2007-08-22(1) TEX BAL W 30-3
                                 
2       1955-04-23 CHW KCA W 29-6
3       1950-06-08 BOS SLB W 29-4
                                 
4    1929-07-06(2) STL PHI W 28-6
                                 
5    1923-07-07(1) CLE BOS W 27-3


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/18/2014.
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 18, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4709173)
Although the other way of putting that is that baseball has no clock. But it does arguably have a natural time scale, evolved in the mid-19th-century by men who could get off work in the summer early enough to play for a couple of hours before the sun set. The urban rhythm of the spectator sport is built on that: leave the shop or the office (maybe a bit early), get off the streetcar at the ballpark, enjoy the game for a couple of hours, get back on the streetcar and home not long after dark.

That's evolved into drive around to collect the whole family in the suburbs, drive an hour-and-a-half through rush hour to another suburb or the downtown park, find your seats by the third inning, enjoy the game for a couple of hours, leave in the seventh to beat traffic, drive an hour back home. It's still functional, but there might be ways of making it even more enjoyable, like making it possible to see a whole game in that enjoyment window.


Another way of looking at that rhythm is this: When you combine suburban sprawl with the fiddling and diddling between pitches, the average fan attending a 7:05 night game now gets home later than he did when the games all started at 8:30. You used to be able to attend a 6:30 twi-night doubleheader and still get home well before midnight.
   40. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: May 18, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4709195)
Another thing that might be a contributing factor. While hitters have been judged on their ability to get on base and hit for power for quite some time, it's only been in the last ten years or so that taking pitches and driving up pitch counts has been emphasized. If hitters are getting deeper into counts, they'd strike out more and games would take longer. Unfortunately, I can't find P/PA on bb-ref so I don't have any way to determine if they've gone up in recent years.
   41. DavidFoss Posted: May 18, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4709205)
Pit/PA is on these pages...
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2014-pitches-batting.shtml

I don't see a table of lgAvg vs year, but you can see each years numbers by clicking back in time. The data for Pit/PA goes back to 1988. Pit/PA has increased 7% since then.
   42. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: May 18, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4709216)
Thanks David. It looks like P/PA have been going up at a pretty consistent rate for the last 26 years.
   43. PreservedFish Posted: May 18, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4709231)
I feel pretty good about the concessions sales hypothesis - it's the most compelling reason for baseball to ignore the issue. And the owners have huge data on sales vs game length. Hopefully someone in the MLB offices sees it as being penny wise, pound foolish.
   44. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 18, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4709242)
Hopefully someone in the MLB offices sees it as being penny wise, pound foolish.


Well, if a brisker game resulted in more ticket sales, then any concession gain from the longer game would be more than overcome.

   45. Walt Davis Posted: May 18, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4709248)
And do I become a "defender" of all that is wrong in the world if I point out that:

in 1988, the Twins led the AL in attendance at 3 million with the Yanks and Toronto at 2.6

in 2013, 4 AL teams topped 3 M, the Red Sox were at 2.8 despite their small park and somehow Toronto and the Twins were still at 2.5

The 2013 numbers are surely ticket sales not attendance, don't know about the 1988 numbers.

Are teams not also signing massive TV deals? Is mlbtv declining? (I have no idea on the latter.)

We'd like to shorten the game. We'd also like less blaring music between innings. We'd like fewer mallparks.

I don't understand why people go to see Transformers -- presumably quite different reasons than why they go to 4-hour strikeout marathons -- or find the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo an exciting book, but that millions of people paid money for these items suggest they have their appeal.

As others have, maybe unintentionally, hinted it's possible baseball is the perfect game for the modern world. Aren't your kids heads buried in their smart phones every spare second? Baseball is great for this, requiring their attention for only 1 out of every 15 seconds. Surf the internet, watch (and pause) GoT then flip over to see how many Ks you've missed. Shorten the time between pitches and you lose millions of in-game tweets!

   46. PreservedFish Posted: May 18, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4709252)
I'm sitting at a D1 game right now. None of the hitters ever step out of the box.
   47. Perry Posted: May 18, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4709267)
I'm a millenial and all my 25-35 year old friends that are baseball fans agree -- something has to be done. Baseball is now something you put on when you're doing something else -- laundry, gaming, driving, etc. It's background.


Yeah, well I'm 59 and that's the way baseball was consumed for a large part of my life. Why? Because 90% of the time you were listening on the radio! I love having every game on TV, but baseball as background is nothing new.

Totally agree with all those who want the pace picked up, though. A two-and-a-half hour game is SO much more fun than a 3-and-a-half-hour came with the same number of runs, hits, etc.
   48. Bunny Vincennes Posted: May 18, 2014 at 10:33 PM (#4709306)
5. nick swisher hygiene Posted: May 18, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4709116)
23--yup on previous threads "game is fine because $$$ and how could you not want more baseball anyway?" has been the dominant position.
the fix is so easy, but the will to make it seems missing.

dunno, though. Americans seem in love with stop & start sports because
1). Strategy!
2). We're all ####### around on the internet and only half paying attention anyway


This. If you are at the ballpark, haven't you signed up for "I have nothing better to do than enjoy baseball." This hysteria of how long a baseball lasts is stupid, and I bet a football or hockey game takes about the same time. And football of all things is 10 seconds of action to five minutes of standing around BEFORE replay.
   49. BDC Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4709313)
But that's like saying, if I'm at a bar, I've signed up for nothing better to do than drink, so I might as well have 18 beers. Wait, I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make here.
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:16 PM (#4709315)
The 2013 numbers are surely ticket sales not attendance, don't know about the 1988 numbers.

For a long time the AL attendance was ticket sales and the NL attendance was turnstile count. I think the NL switched to ticket sales about 10 or 15 years ago, possibly with the coming of interleague play.

As others have, maybe unintentionally, hinted it's possible baseball is the perfect game for the modern world. Aren't your kids heads buried in their smart phones every spare second? Baseball is great for this, requiring their attention for only 1 out of every 15 seconds. Surf the internet, watch (and pause) GoT then flip over to see how many Ks you've missed. Shorten the time between pitches and you lose millions of in-game tweets!

I have the TV on for 80% of the Yankees and Orioles games whenever I'm home, and switch back and forth between them when they're on at the same time, with the Red Sox game and the NBA playoffs as supplements. But when there's just one game on, I can usually either get through several chapters a night in a book between pitches, and / or watch the better part of an old B&W movie or run a rack or two of pool during the commercials. If I didn't have those other options, I'd probably watch about 80% less baseball than I now do, because all the stalling between pitches would drive me nuts unless the game is on the line.
   51. Greg K Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:32 PM (#4709319)
Just listened to the Jays-Rangers series this weekend on the radio as I was up at the cottage without TV. Baseball really is excellent radio material, especially the moments everyone stops playing cards at the same second to hear where the ball's going to land.

It sounds like I'm the same as you guys. I usually have an mlb.tv game on the same computer I'm working or writing on. Generally it works as radio as I have the window closed for long stretches, then flip over to it when something interesting is happening or I'm bored with work (all too often the latter). I do find that it's having a cumulative effect. I used to be able to concentrate on one thing for long periods of time. But I find I have to flit back and forth now, where before it was a choice.
   52. Zach Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:52 PM (#4709325)
I kind of like baseball as background. I watch a lot more baseball when I have my laptop handy than I would if I had nothing more to do than watch the game.

Regarding pace of games, baseball's in a transition period right now. The decline of the steroid era means that slap hitters are getting reintroduced to the game, but batters are still trying to work long counts and pitchers are trying to get ahead with early strikes. Right now it means lots of strikeouts. Pretty soon, it'll mean lots of weak contact early in the count.
   53. Zach Posted: May 18, 2014 at 11:57 PM (#4709326)
For once, the KC Royals are ahead of the curve: they've got lots of glove men who never strike out and never hit it out of the park. They're terrible on offense, but third in the league in ERA+ with a solid but not great pitching staff.

It's not that the slap hitters are better than the take and rake guys. It's that they're so much easier to find.
   54. cardsfanboy Posted: May 19, 2014 at 12:48 AM (#4709337)
We'd like fewer mallparks.


Speak for yourself. I have no idea what one of these things is, but they sound cool. The actual reality is that even if "the Mall" experience is increasing attendance, the simple fact is that on raw numbers, I absolutely guarantee you, that there are more people going per game, per team to WATCH the game, in today's game, than there EVER was in the 70's, 60's, 50's or 40's etc...

the whole "mallpark" thing is just old farts who don't like hearing a little music that they are too stupid to understand because they might use a word like back to mean butt in it and would rather listen to ted nugent singing about rape or enjoy the cacophony of an empty stadium after the fifth inning(the way it was meant to be, when they were growing up as kids....enjoying a quiet afternoon at the ballpark with roughly a few thousand others after the fifth inning.)
   55. Bunny Vincennes Posted: May 19, 2014 at 01:06 AM (#4709341)
Speak for yourself. I have no idea what one of these things is, but they sound cool. The actual reality is that even if "the Mall" experience is increasing attendance, the simple fact is that on raw numbers, I absolutely guarantee you, that there are more people going per game, per team to WATCH the game, in today's game, than there EVER was in the 70's, 60's, 50's or 40's etc...


I don't know. Miller Park is a great place where redneck nation is all about finding dippin dots whatever they are, etc. I've made a standard of getting middle of the row seats so I do not have to get up constantly. But its also the the team that celebrates losing a World Series. Milwaukee is a strange place. Their uni's looked great on Sunday.
   56. cardsfanboy Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:26 AM (#4709352)
Been to Miller Park...it smelled great. Was able to get seats along thirdbase line about 2 rows back for an incredibly affordable price, 2 minutes after the game started. I loved that stadium.

Yet still the vast majority of the people there were watching the game, would razz me for my Cardinal outfit etc...

Mallpark is an absolute myth, created by old folks who will always believe the world was better back in the day.
   57. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:34 AM (#4709353)
I actually enjoy the music at the ballpark. Maybe it's less loud at Camden Yards than other places (although I like loud music . . . and quiet music). But here I am, an elitist snob who rarely listens to any popular music on my own,* yet I like hearing it at the park. I hear a lot of things that really strike my fancy. And I get to ask my girlfriend what it is, and she usually knows, and then I learn something. Then I go in a store and hear the radio and I can say "That's Matt Wieters' music!" It's like a kid learning the names of farm animals.

* Actually it's lack of time, in large part. My listening time is taken.
   58. SoCalDemon Posted: May 19, 2014 at 08:37 AM (#4709376)
Pitchers are overthrowing like crazy because 100 mph fastballs are the way to the big leagues and stardom.


I have never heard of overthrowing used this way. I have always thought "overthrowing" was when a pitcher put more effort than usual/necessary into a pitch, leading to changes in mechanics that generally make them more hitable. Wouldn't the above just be "throwing like crazy" since the whole point of the article is that whatever pitchers are doing is clearly being effective?
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 19, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4709381)
the whole "mallpark" thing is just old farts who don't like hearing a little music that they are too stupid to understand because they might use a word like back to mean butt in it and would rather listen to ted nugent singing about rape or enjoy the cacophony of an empty stadium after the fifth inning(the way it was meant to be, when they were growing up as kids....enjoying a quiet afternoon at the ballpark with roughly a few thousand others after the fifth inning.)

Or maybe we'd sometimes just like to be able to hear the person sitting next to us. It isn't the choice of music that's the problem, it's the volume. If I'm going to be cascaded with 100 decibels worth of noise, I'd prefer it to be coming from the crowd reacting to a play on the field, not from an amplifier echoing a prefabricated playlist.

And if you don't think that "mallpark" is a perfect description of what we've got now, please tell us how different the food choices underneath the stands are from the generic food court at your average slightly upscale shopping mall, or how the souvenir choices don't mostly duplicate the selections you can find in half a dozen similar shops scattered all over any typical metropolitan area.

   60. bfan Posted: May 19, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4709391)
And while he addresses the pace of the game in his article, the title of the article suggests the real, major problem; the lack of scoring is an issue. Both the NFL and the NBA have acted with substantial rules changes (the nba certainly in a more dramatic fashion) to assist the offense in the game, to promote interest. I fear MLB is too tied up in tradition to try something dramatic, unless and until attendance and/or viewership drops suddenly and substantially. I see a 1-0 or 2-0 game as interesting from time to time; when those become too prevalent, it is a problem.

The feeling of the game being over when your team is down 2 runs in the 3rd inning, while you sit for the rest of the game and watch the parade of relievers come in from the 6th inning on, throwing gas past flailing hitters, just isn't good. Don't think of it as high-scoring if that upsets you; think of it as the chance for lead changes and come-backs.
   61. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: May 19, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4709411)
Miller Park is a great place where redneck nation is all about finding dippin dots whatever they are, etc.

Wow, I had no idea that rednecks were Dippin' Dots target demographic. Talk about a counterintuitive product!
   62. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 19, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4709413)
The other day I noted that we have the worst of both worlds -- very little scoring, but the pace and trappings of the high scoring late 90's, early 00's -- e.g., lots of pitches per AB, multiple relievers. I wouldn't mind 60's era scoring levels if the games were fast and we were seeing a bunch of well pitched 8-9 inning games by the starters.
   63. simon bedford Posted: May 19, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4709414)
bfan when you have the toronto bullpen no lead is safe. maybe this personal experience with blown holds and saves this year has me thinking this article is way off target.
   64. Born1951 Posted: May 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4709427)
As a percentage of games, team shutouts this year are at 15.3%. The last time it was that high was 1981 (15.8%), and 1976 (16.8%) for a non-strike year. The lowest since 1950 was in 1999 at 7.9% and the highest in that time period was 20.9% in 1968. The highest of all time was 23.8% in 1908. The top four were all in 1906-1909. The lowest since 1900 was 7.5% in 1930 and the lowest all time was 3.9% in 1894.
   65. simon bedford Posted: May 19, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4709434)
76 was a great year for baseball!
   66. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 19, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4709439)
As a percentage of games, team shutouts this year are at 15.3%.

Great, that's more the double the shutout percentage for the NHL. Next up: Soccer.
   67. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4709448)
Or maybe we'd sometimes just like to be able to hear the person sitting next to us. It isn't the choice of music that's the problem, it's the volume. If I'm going to be cascaded with 100 decibels worth of noise, I'd prefer it to be coming from the crowd reacting to a play on the field, not from an amplifier echoing a prefabricated playlist.


Here's the thing.. I wish that the only music played at Dodger Stadium was by Nancy B. Hefley on the Dodger Stadium Roland Organ. The turn up the volume and blow your ears out thing bugs me a bit, too.

But how many minutes of split your ears music/sound effects actually happens at a ballgame?
   68. simon bedford Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4709451)
talking about music at staduims no more god damn adams family theme please
   69. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4709458)
Pretty soon, it'll mean lots of weak contact early in the count.


Oh joy! Great baseball is on the way back. Juan Pierre will play until he's 70!

F*^& my life.

/Pedro Alvarez Strikes Out Again
   70. BDC Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4709469)
But how many minutes of split your ears music/sound effects actually happens at a ballgame?

In Arlington, from the moment the gates open till the moment they ask you to take off your hat for the National Anthem, two hours. Then wall-to-wall from the third out of each half-inning to the first pitch of the next. As every home batter approaches the plate. Also at any interval during play where the Rangers seem to need some encouragement from THE LOUDEST FANS IN BASEBALL.

I'm not making this up: just as I typed that last sentence, there was a noise on the front lawn and I got up to see if it was those kids again.

I dunno, as I said and several others have remarked, they're selling three million tickets a year, so the noise must not really be that off-putting. People pay more for tickets and expect something more like a football game in terms of momentousness and spectacle.

And that said, Rangers ticket sales are down sharply this year, from about 40K to about 36, and if 36,000 people are showing up at a typical game, I'll eat my Shin-Soo-Choo shirt. But I can't imagine that's because games are too long or noisy; it's because aside from Yu Darvish, they have somewhat sucked. The place was packed to the gills early in 2011 and 2012.
   71. Davo Dozier Posted: May 19, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4709765)
Atlantic League intent on having baseball games take less time

Has a link to this specific outline of the rules they are changing/enforcing to cut down on the length of their games.

Elements of the 2013 Atlantic League Experiment Include:

Strike Zone - The Strike Zone defined in the Major League Official Rules will be called by Atlantic League umpires in 2013. In practice, despite the rulebook definition, professional baseball pitches above the belt are generally called a "ball" these days. In the past, the Official Rules Strike Zone was called and the Atlantic League would like to attempt to measure the effect of calling the existing rule on pace of the games. The objective of enforcing the Rule Book Strike Zone is to see if this will reduce number of pitches in a game and to speed up play by encouraging hitters to put balls in play earlier in the count.

Hitters – Existing Rule 6.02 prohibiting hitters intentionally leaving the batter's box and delaying the game will be enforced. Managers and umpires shall strongly encourage hitters to be ready to bat, and hitters shall minimize time between pitches. Hitters are not to step out of the batter's box after every pitch. Public Address announcers must stop player walk out music once the hitter enters dirt area around home plate. After a warning, umpires may call a 'Strike' for additional violations.

Pitcher Warms Ups – Existing Rule 8.03 which states "Pitchers will be allowed eight (8) warm up pitches, but shall not consume more than one (1) minute" will now be enforced, as will Existing Rule 8.04 which states "when the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball." After a warning, each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call 'Ball'.
   72. zenbitz Posted: May 19, 2014 at 06:26 PM (#4709774)
The reason the games are slower is because the pitchers throw so fast the clocks slow down /relativity.

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