This past Friday, the New York Yankees played the first of their 19 games against their chief rival, the Boston Red Sox. Nothing new there except it went on forever. To be exact, the Red Sox won 6-5 in 19 innings after going scoreless in more than 4 hours and 7 minutes. The game finished a little after 2AM (EST). 628 pitches were thrown in the game, as the Yankees pitchers threw 322 pitches, while the Red Sox staff threw 296. Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts saw a game-high 47 pitches in 8 at-bats. To give you an example of how ridiculous this was, Red Barrett of the Boston Braves on August 10, 1944 against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field won on a complete game, 2-0, and threw only 58 pitches. In short, the game lasted a very long time…6 hours and 49 minutes to be exact. Which brought up a question…are we turning baseball into cricket?
The tradition ladened sport of cricket, decided to limit some of their match play to a one day event. This has led to great crowds and in Australia this year, drew over a million viewers on television for the finals of the Australia victory over New Zealand in the World Cup final. And to be specific about what long means with this sport, the longest Test lasted for 10 days which began in October and ended in November, 1939. The Durban Test match between South Africa and England was to be played as a timeless Test match and some eleven days later it was still left drawn since England had to begin their two-day rail journey back to their ship at Cape Town. It still remains the longest ever first-class match of ten days of actual play. The match was abandoned as a draw after 43 hours 16 minutes of actual play as the game finished at tea on the 11th day because of rain. Talk about kissing your sister.
All of this has led to a discussion…watch out purest…about speeding up the game of baseball and how it can be accomplished. One thought could be, after the game enters extra innings, remove the center fielder. What?
Think about it. We are not going millennial on anyone here. We are not talking about making baseball, a team sport, like basketball or football where a player who makes a play he should make pounds his chest, raising arms to the sky, and proclaiming himself the greatest ever. But basket ball did add the shot clock years ago to supply more scoring and thus, excite the fans. Football added the two point, extra point conversion, to attempt to reduce tie games.
Baseball, a generational sport, has always melded generations by bringing discovery to the game. The DH was created to do exactly that. But now, even a league where the DH is in place, still has games lasting into the next morning. In the case of the Yankees/Red Sox game, it finished with only 11 hours to get ready to play the next game on Saturday at 1:05P.
By removing the center fielder, the entire playing area opens up. Some think that the shortstop should be removed instead of the center fielder. Why not, after nine innings if the game is tied, remove the center fielder and if the game is still tied after ten innings remove the shortstop. Yup. Play the game with seven.
OK. We can already hear Bob Costas pontificate on this one. First, he will give you chapter and verse about the essence of the game and the symmetric beauty of simplicity of how the game has been played. He probably hated the fact that the players had to take their gloves into the dugout rather than leaving them on the field as they once did after every inning. No doubt he was against the mound changes. Think about it and he probably had a debate regarding the putting up of fences rather than leaving the ball to roll as far as it could in the good old days. We already know what he thinks about the Designated Hitter.
Some argue that the greatest era in baseball was what it has done in the past, according to the generation you speak with. But if we want the sport to extend into the next Century, the game has to be played quicker. The days of 6 hour games has to come to an end.
Remove the center fielder. Then…what do you think? Just add your comment.