Last week, big-league umpire Joe West blasted the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for their slow play during their season-opening series.
The Yanks and Sox took three hours and 21 minutes to play the rubber game of that series, which is just a bit longer than the three hours that major league games usually take. The first two games took three hours and 46 minutes and three hours and 48 minutes, respectively.
“It’s pathetic and embarrassing,” West told the Bergen Record. “They take too long to play.”
I initially dismissed West’s complaints because I’d been going through baseball withdrawal ever since the final out of the World Series last October. I’m also a bit biased here as well-I’m one of the few people that still consider baseball to be America’s pastime.
Most people these days find baseball to be long, too long. There’s no time limit to games, which means you’ve got to get all 27 outs-no matter how long that may take you.
As a result, games sometimes take longer than they should. If the Yankees and Red Sox had to play all night, they would. They’d have to, and no bit of complaining from Joe West could change that.
But if West thought the Yankees and Red Sox take too long, he should have been at Jack Kaiser Stadium Sunday for the final game of the St. John’s-West Virginia series.
It took 13 innings to decide a winner. The Red Storm used eight pitchers and each team had more than 15 hits and scored a combined 18 runs, trading the lead like it was an old baseball card.
Oh, yeah. The game also took four hours and 30 minutes to complete, easily becoming the longest baseball game I’ve ever seen live.
As much as I may love watching baseball, four and a half hours is way too long for a game to be played. West is right. Baseball needs to be sped up.
The game itself doesn’t need to change, but its practices sure do. Make the managers jog to the mound for visits. Limit the number of warm-up pitches. Don’t let the hitter step out of the batter’s box whenever he happens to call for time.
On Sunday, both teams appeared frustrated as the innings dragged and nobody could push a run across. Offensive threats were plentiful, as it seemed the Red Storm and Mountaineers had runners on base every inning and the game was full of excitement-as are the heated games between the Yankees and Red Sox every year-but neither team could put an end to the game.
When West Virginia scored three runs in the top of the 13th, their entire bench erupted in cheers and there were congratulatory high-fives all around. Maybe they were just out of relief that the game would soon be over.
Everyone else sure needed a break.