Don’t Let Baseball Get In The Way Of A Paying Gig

Rick Reilly wants you to read about Things that nobody reads in America today:

The online legal mumbo jumbo before you check the little “I Agree” box.

Kate Upton’s resume.

If I had to click “I agree to read Kate Upton’s resume in order to get a look at Kate Upton”, I promise you that I would make it a point to read Kate Upton’s resume. Do we get to look at Kate Upton now?

Major League Baseball’s “Pace of Play Procedures.”

Crap. But you’re right, Rick. Nobody wants to read that or talk about that. How about we watch a game or two instead?

Not that baseball games don’t have a pace. They do: snails escaping a freezer.

It’s clear no MLB player or umpire has ever read the procedures, or else how do you explain what I witnessed Sunday, when I sat down to do something really stupid — watch an entire televised MLB game without the aid of a DVR?

Thank God you aren’t compelled to do something equally stupid like write an article about sports that you don’t want to watch, because it’s far worse than having to dig ditches in ungodly heat for eight hours to go home to a house where the paint is melting off the walls only to find out the game that you planned on watching is blacked out because it’s regional but that doesn’t matter because the power has been out for a week.

Cincinnati at San Francisco was a 3-hour, 14-minute can-somebody-please-stick-two-forks-in-my-eyes snore-a-palooza.

Yeah, that’s much worse.

Like a Swedish movie, it might have been decent if somebody had cut 90 minutes out of it. I’d rather have watched eyebrows grow. And I should have known better.

I am certain we watch different Swedish movies.

Consider: There were 280 pitches thrown and, after 170 of them, the hitter got out of the batter’s box and did … absolutely nothing.

Mostly, hitters delayed the proceedings to kick imaginary dirt off their cleats, meditate, and un-Velcro and re-Velcro their batting gloves, despite the fact that most of the time, they hadn’t even swung.

Buster Posey of the Giants, The Man Who Wrecked Your Dinner Reservations, has this habit of coming to the box, stopping outside it and unfastening and refastening his gloves before his FIRST SWING! What exactly was he doing in the on-deck circle? His cuticles?

I understand this complaint. There are some rituals in and around the batter’s box that are simply impregnable to non-baseball players, and the pace and idiosyncrasies can be tedious, even frustrating. But, consider the fact that a major league ball player has to mentally prepare himself to do something extremely difficult, knowing that it is more likely than not that he will fail, and that failure comes at them at a rate of 4(ppa)*3.1(pa/g)*162(g) per season just to qualify for sucking at his job. Baseball is the repetition of failure with momentary, fleeting glimpses of success and glory.

I knew I was in trouble in the first inning..

And, being of sound mind and body you avoided being personally violated by handing in your credentials, went to a movie you didn’t want to see for an hour and a half, and turned in an article about how much you hate 3-d glasses?

..when the Reds’ Brandon Phillips stepped up. My notes on his five-pitch at-bat:

Strike: steps out, examines the trademark of his bat at length.

Ball: steps out, grabs barrel of bat, seems to be talking to it.

Ball: steps out, takes three practice swings, taps corner of batter’s box, steps one foot in, taps plate, places other foot in, stretches, fiddles, finally looks at pitcher, calls timeout! Does it all again.

Swing and a miss: steps way out, adjusts belt, adjusts jersey, addresses barrel again.

Grounds out to short.

Apparently, the bat didn’t listen.

Apparently, it looks like Rick was watching a different game because the according to the box, Phillips grounded out weakly 5-3. Reading and inferring a bit more deeply, Phillips, the moderately speedy right-hander, was taking pitches after Stubbs went full as the previous hitter, missed swinging on the 2-1 pitch he thought was to be his money ball, had to get defensive, got jammed by Vogelsong — who happens to be having a fantastic season — and couldn’t beat out the running throw from Sandoval end the inning.

I didn’t watch the game either, Rick, but to me the box score of that at-bat looks pretty exciting if you, oh, I don’t know, LIKE BASEBALL.

By the way, the average number of seconds per pitch this game: 31.34. Thirty-one seconds per pitch? This is not a misprint. Do you realize people can solve an entire Rubik’s Cube in 22 seconds?

I did not realize people can ever solve any more than the top of and two rows around the sides of a Rubik’s cube. I always “solved” it with a screwdriver, or just peeled the stickers off and rearranged them. It takes more than 22 seconds for me just to find a screwdriver. No one wants to watch any part of what anyone else does with a Rubik’s cube, or a Pyraminx for that matter.

All of this, of course, is in direct violation of MLB’s “Pace of Play Procedures” (hah!), which state: “Umpires will not grant time for batters to step out of the box if to do so would unnecessarily delay the game.”

Unnecessarily delay the game? The only delay these hitters knew was unnecessary. And when they weren’t doing that, the pitchers were lollygagging behind the mound, re-rubbing pre-rubbed baseballs or gazing up to identify cloud animals.

Skip knows that Larry knows that when you lollygag the ball around the infield and lollygag your way down to first and lollygag in and out of the dugout it makes you a bunch of lollygaggers.

New rule: Umpires who don’t order batters back into the box within 12 seconds — because the rules state that a pitcher must throw the ball within 12 seconds of receiving it — will get the room at the hotel next to the newlyweds.

New rule: writers who get paid to bitch about getting paid to watch sports donate that money to their local VFW or Legion so that kids that otherwise couldn’t afford to play baseball don’t end up playing a truly boring sport like soccer.

There’s also this amusing passage in the “Pace of Play Procedures” (hah!): “When given permission to leave the batter’s box under Rule 6.02, batters may not step more than 3 feet from the batter’s box.”

Whoo-eee! That’s rich. These guys wandered away from the box like 2-year-olds at a petting zoo. Six times they left the dirt circle around the plate altogether. Left the entire circle!

And by the way, this nonsense about there’s only a 2-minute, 10-second TV break between half innings? Bullfeathers. Only once did the break between half innings take 2:10 or less. The rest of the time, it was miles over. The break before the top of the fifth was 4 minutes, 12 seconds! Where did everybody go? Out to feed their meters?

There were more ways to waste time in this game than in a month of teamsters meetings.

Players Union, Teamsters Union, same thing I guess. I just can’t remember which one has a wet bar and which one comps cement loafers.

There were 14 attempts by pitchers to pick off runners, not one of them even coming close. Most of them resembled somebody tossing a turkey to a co-worker.

Only 10 of the 14 bore resemblance to somebody throwing poultry at a fellow dock worker. Of the other four, one would remind you of a drunken frat boy throwing a string of shiny beads at a topless co-ed, one was vaguley akin to a farmhand slopping a pig, one seemed as though a priest was about to clobber an altar boy with a censor, and the remaining toss brought back memories of getting picked last in dodgeball only to be the first out after getting hit in the face.

New rule: Pitchers get two pickoff attempts per runner. For every one after that, the umpire adds a ball to the hitter’s count.

Wait, your solution to speed up games is to increase scoring? If you want to speed up the game, the answer is simple.

1) Raise the mound

2) Automate balls and strikes calls

Get ready for lots of 2-1 and 1-0 two hour games and a bankrupt sport.

Four times the hitter, after going through his Art Carney routine, got into the box, decided the pitcher was messing with him, and called time out.

Twice the pitcher wanted a timeout.

Five times the catcher called time out to go out to the mound to discuss, what? ObamaCare?

It is not a mandated time-out penalty. It is a time tax.

Four times the pitching coach wanted time. That’s 15 timeouts in a game that didn’t even have a clock. Can you imagine if Tom Brady could call a timeout anytime he wanted? You’d be in Foxborough long enough to vote.

And explain to me why a reliever who’s been warming up in the bullpen for five minutes still needs eight pitches to warm up on the mound. Do field goal kickers get eight practice kicks? Dumb.

Not as dumb as comparing a relief pitcher to a place kicker.

Like tennis grunts, all this crud is just a lot of bad habits that only serve to annoy the very people MLB is supposedly trying to captivate — the fans. It doesn’t sell more TV ads, doesn’t get the game done before the kids have to go to bed, doesn’t do anything but make your thumb hit the CHNL UP button sooner.

This game was mercifully won by the Giants, 4-3, on their last at-bat, when Reds right fielder Jay Bruce botched an easy fly ball.

Three hours and 14 minutes, 170 step-outs, and three double-shot macchiatos for that?

Please, I beg of you, bring on the NFL.

Didn’t you write this same article in 2000? Back then, you timed the game out to about 12 and a half minutes of actual in-play time, which is actually roughly the amount of time a football is in play over the course of a game, except a football team only plays about once a week for five months or so.

This much is true: baseball is a game of repetition. Apparently, so is getting paid to complain about it.

5 comments… add one

  • Just saw a tweet about Joba:

    “Joba Chamberlain’s line today in Bradenton: 1 IP, 0 hits, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 unearned run. 23 pitches. His fastball topped out at 97″

    krueg July 10, 2012, 11:16 am
  • good news about joba, krueg…thanks for sharing…

    nice job ag…funny stuff…i always thought reilly was a hack…not worth reading really, other than to make fun of, like you just did…amazing these yahoos get paid for this stuff…if he doesn’t understand baseball, he shouldn’t be allowed to have a forum to publish an opinion about it…one of the most appealing things about baseball is that it’s the only major sport without a clock to impose time limitations…it takes as long as it takes to determine a winner…with a clock we’d have the nfl and nba…sorry golf and bowling fans those are not major sports, although i think even they have some sort of hurry up and shoot mechanism in place…

    in reilly’s perfect baseball world:
    1. jeter and papi would be banned for life
    2. pitchers would have 8 seconds to throw the ball after receiving it from the catcher, or a ball is assessed…similar to today, but actually enforced by giant clocks, with a lound raspberry sound at the end of the countdown, like the nba
    batters would have 8 seconds to pick a wedgie or whatever between pitches, or a strike is assessed…again enforced by the giant raspberry clock
    3. pitchers would not be allowed to warm up between innings or after pitching changes
    4. only 1 minute for commercials between innings [i actually like this one]
    5. eliminate throwing the ball around the infield after an out is recorded
    6. don’t allow batters to exchange broken bats…if your bat breaks…tough
    7. allow only one pickoff attempt per baserunner…if you don’t get him with the first throw, too bad
    8. eliminate the 7th inning stretch
    9. institute a mercy rule…first team to score 10 runs wins the game, or the first team to score 5 runs in any of the first 3 innings wins the game
    10. no rain delays…whichever team is ahead when it starts raining wins the game, regardless of the inning
    11. any batter good enough to work a pitcher for at least 10 pitches is awarded first base, regardless of the pitch count
    12. catchers are not allowed to remove their gear between innings, not even to bat…might be a little tougher to hit and run the bases, but so what, most of them aren’t in there for offense anyway

    dc July 10, 2012, 12:15 pm
  • I haven’t read Reilly in a long time.
    Clearly I’ve missed nothing.

    I'mBillMcNeal July 10, 2012, 2:04 pm
  • There’s a live comment preview now. Start typing, the content of your comment will show up in the area below the submit button. It parses html so you can test your links and bolds and special characters.

    I couldn’t find a preview button that worked well, and I don’t want any AJAX stuff that would bog because of constant communication with the server.

    attackgerbil July 10, 2012, 2:15 pm
  • Kate Upton IS pretty hot. That GQ spread is steamy…

    Also: fine, whoever you are, you don’t like baseball. Lots of people don’t. Shut up.

    Game could stand to pick up the pace, honestly (mostly via cutting commercials, but yeah, in-game could go faster too), but if you’re not fine with a relaxed game pace, you will NEVER, EVER, EVER like baseball.

    Devine July 19, 2012, 5:21 pm

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