Baseball games get longer and longer, but this is not entirely, or even chiefly because batters spend so much time adjusting their batting gloves between pitches, or that some pitchers seem to go into extended meditative trances before delivering the ball.
A big game-extender is the new philosophy, popular in some dugouts, of going deep into the count in order to see more pitches and to run the opposing pitcher’s pitch count up. But probably the biggest time waster is the fact that so many major league hitters now have so much trouble making contact with the ball. So many strikeouts.
It’s not the length of the game but the pace of the game that matters. For fans it’s not nearly as entertaining to see batters waving at the ball and missing as it is to see the ball put in play. For this reason I’m only lukewarm on the idea of the pitch clock, which will be tried in AA and AAA ball during the 2015 season in hopes of juicing the game up a bit, and perhaps even getting fans home before the late-late show begins.
Before baseball apes basketball and football yet again (see wild cards without end and “after further review”), why not let home-plate umpires try to move the game on a bit? And pressure managers and coaches, from the bushes to the bigs, to teach pitchers to “get the ball, throw the ball.” And how about hiring players who can hit the damn ball?
Asked once why he swung at so many bad pitches, Yogi Berra replied, “Hit the ball — that’s what it’s there for.” Just so. Perhaps we should put Yogi in charge of this project.