Yanks play long and win in season’s first week

Fan Confidence Poll: April 12th, 2010
Link Dump: Joba, Sabathia & Crawford, Chan Ho

I hold a very definite view of umpires. If I know your name, that’s probably a bad sign. In an ideal world, an umpire would act like the shadow that his black uniform suggests. Instead we have a world where some umpires get off on ostentatiously punching out hitters, and where veteran umpires like Joe West think it is in good taste to express his criticisms of two teams he is supposed to be officiating objectively. There have been enough pixels dedicated to West’s comments, including this amusing anecdote from Matt at Fack Youk, but I’d like to take a look at the long-game effect from Week 1.

The Yankees played six games in the season’s opening week and just one of them finished in under three hours. That, of course, was Friday’s 9-3 affair, in which David Price dominated the Yankees for most of his appearance. The Yankees saw just 132 pitches that night, 111 from Price. Yet not even that tells the whole story. Through the first six innings Price had breezed through the Yankees’ lineup, running into trouble just once and working out of that relatively quickly. He had tossed just 66 pitches, including single-digits in the first and fifth and 10 in the sixth. That makes for a fast paced game, but it did not work in the Yankees’ favor.

What made the game go even quicker was Price’s efficiency. Of those first 66 pitches, 40 were strikes. He even administered the lone walk efficiently, sending Nick Swisher to first base on four pitches. Of the 22 hitters he faced through the sixth, nine of them saw one- or two-pitch at-bats. Only two of them resulted in hits, and both were on the first pitch of an inning. Price’s dominance is what kept that game short. Had Javy Vazquez continued the proficiency he had showed in the first three innings, it might have been even shorter.

In the five three-plus-hour affairs the Yankees scored 33 runs, or more than six per game. Starting pitchers lasted just 27 innings, or just over 5.1 per outing. They threw 496 total pitches, so 18.4 per inning and 99.2 per start. This meant that the bullpen had to pitch the remaining 18 innings, or just under 3.2 innings per game. That’s 3.2 innings per game in which the Yankees get to beat up on lesser pitchers. The Yankees saw 357 pitches over those 18 relief innings, or nearly 20 pitches per inning. Best of all, they scored 18 runs off relievers, one per inning. It’s no wonder the front office has assembled a team that is willing to take pitches.

MLB has expressed its desire to hasten the pace of games, specifically ones involving the Yankees and Red Sox. As JoePos wrote, those two teams do indeed play the longest games. In fact, the entire AL East plays longer than the other two AL divisions. Yet the AL East contains the best two, and perhaps the best three, teams in baseball. This doesn’t mean that there is a direct correlation to playing long and winning. But it doesn’t seem to hurt.

West’s criticism, it seems, centers on the constant stepping out of the box, visits to the mound, and pitching changes. All of that comes along with the strategy of driving up pitch counts. When a pitcher throws more pitches in an inning he might need a breather or a refresher on strategy, hence the mound visits. He also might need calming down, hence the pitching coach trips. This is in an effort to keep the pitcher in the game, so that there doesn’t need to be a time-consuming mid-inning pitching change. Yet those inevitably happen. So the game goes on. I’m not quite sure batters asking for time significantly increases game time, but if it does that’s still on the pitcher. I don’t see many batters aimlessly calling for time. It’s mostly because the pitcher is taking too long in reading the signs.

For his statements, West received a firm admonishment from MLB. Again, since I’m of the mind that umpires should not at all be known, I disagree with the severity. West should have known to keep his mouth shut. Then again, since MLB itself has been vocal about the issue, it was doubtful from the start that he’d receive any kind of meaningful punishment. That’s kind of sad. We shouldn’t hear this kind of commentary from the arbiters of balls and strikes, safes and outs. They should be in the background, doing what they do diligently, respectfully, and quietly.

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Fan Confidence Poll: April 12th, 2010
Link Dump: Joba, Sabathia & Crawford, Chan Ho
  • A.D.

    Given that I doubt the Yankees are intentionally trying to run up the time the games take, and instead playing good baseball (i.e. being selective at the plate & ready to hit), since there is 0 benefit to making a game longer for the sake of it, I really don’t see the issue. Sure MLB wants to speed games up, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the product on the field.

    • from the BX

      Can you guys run a regression of OBP vs avg game time. I want to know what kind of correlation there would be because I don’t think the MLB could be trying to get the yankees and sox to make outs faster and get on base less so that they can avg the same game time as the nats.

      I would do it but i can’t get ahold of the game time stat.

  • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    Joe West was sent to his room without any dinner.

    Actually, he wasn’t even given that punishment. I’m sure he and Bud had a good laugh about it and then agreed to leak to Bill Madden that it was a “firm admonishment.”

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Joe West was sent to his room without any dinner Fourth Meal.

      Fixed

      /Taco Bell’d

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Joe West was sent to his room without any dinner.

      That quite possibly could be the severest form of punishment for Joe West. In fact, I believes the Eight Ammendmenbt forbids cruel and unusual punishment, so I doubt that any punishment actually required West to forego any meals.

      • AJ

        Lmao. He’s not thin.

  • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

    As an aside of sorts, baseball really needs to reign in the umpires. I understand that some people find the theatrics and jawing charming or whatever, but at some point it’s just not appropriate conduct for officials.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Agreed, this goes right down to ball/strike calls. There is no valid reason why umps should carry on the way they do. Make the call, signal the call, and be done with it. MLB should create standard calls for umps so they don’t have the opportunity to embellish the way they do, just like officials in every other major sport. You don’t see NHL refs sliding across the rink making tripping or slashing motions and making a big deal out of their calls, I don’t understand why MLB umps can do whatever they want in that way.

      • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

        Every now and then you see an NFL ref get excited in a tense situation and exaggerate an incomplete pass signal or something, but that’s pretty much it. If the worst umpires got was an over-excited safe or out call on a close play in a tense situation I could live with that. But the flashy punch outs as a routine matter are just blatant show-boating/attempts to show up the batters.

        • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Agreed. If there’s a close call and the official/ump is more demonstrative than usual that’s reasonable, understandable and quite acceptable, but for it to happen routinely is just inappropriate and unnecessary.

  • Frank1979

    Can I ask a possibly stupid question in reference to the length of baseball games?…

    Why is everybody in such a hurry?

    I realize that we now live in the age of short attention spans, but if you can’t sit back and enjoy a baseball game for 3+ hours, then maybe you shouldn’t be watching baseball in the first place. One of the things I like about baseball as opposed to other sports is that there is no clock. I enjoy the relaxing pace of baseball. Maybe I’m just in the minority, I don’t know anymore.

    • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

      I think it’s worth distinguishing between length of a game and pace of a game. I watched every pitch of that 15 inning marathon with Boston last year and was completely riveted all night. After the A-Rod walk off, I was still pumped up hours after the end of the game. But if there’s a game where the PACE is legitimately unnecessarily slow, that can get sort of tedious. But I agree with Joe; I’ve never really seen Yankees games as being tediously paced, I see them as good baseball. Hitters not swinging at bad pitches, other teams needing to take mound visits and pitching changes, etc.

      • Frank1979

        Yeah I agree. If the pace is slow for unnecessary reasons and the game is sloppy then sure, its understandable that people will get annoyed.

        But in the case with the Yankees and Red Sox, like you and Joe said, its usually more of hitters working the counts, other teams having to make pitching changes, resulting in good, entertaining baseball.

      • Jammy Jammers

        I was at that game. My contact lenses were drying out. It was like watching Groundhog Day. Great game, though.

    • Ed

      I think one of the concerns is because the bigger games – Postseason, All Star Game, ESPN national broadcasts, etc – tend to start at 8 or later. As a result, the games end after a lot of kids are in bed. The concern is that with less kids watching the big games, they are less likely to be baseball fans when they grow up. Changing the start times is one solution, but that would reduce the TV revenue.

      I also think that while fans who spent a lot of time on baseball blogs are a lot more tolerant of longer games than the more casual fans are.

    • Tank Foster

      How old are you Frank? It’s a matter of perspective, I think. I grew up watching a game that was much faster-paced than today’s game. Batters didn’t step out of the box much. Pitchers got the ball, got the sign, and pitched. Very little fussing around. Games were usually finished in about 2 hours and 10 minutes or so, usually under 2:30.

      So by that yardstick, I find 3 hour games to be incredibly boring.

      What baseball is supposed to be is an athletic contest. It’s supposed to be guys hitting the ball, guys fielding the ball, guys throwing the ball, and guys running the bases. Long at bats, fouling off pitches, working walks, etc., is not as exciting as watching guys run bases, watching fielders jump and dive and throw.

      I understand that baseball is a game of tension and resolution. I know it’s cerebral and strategic. I understand this, and I like this aspect of baseball, too. The cat and mouse game between pitcher and batter. I get it.

      The game is a balance between those cerebral aspects and the purely athletic aspects.

      And I believe the balance is way off today, and the success of sabermetrics in determining what scores runs and creates wins has transformed the game into a too-slow, too-unathletic type of contest.

      Baseball is already somewhat of a niche sport. Other than hotbeds in NY, Boston, Philadelphia, and to some degree Chicago and LA, most of the country isn’t really into it. Not like they are into football.

      I think baseball is the best game, and it _should_ have broad, national appeal. The PTB in baseball should change the game to make it more universally appealing.

      Joe West may be a blowhard. He may be fat. He may not be the best umpire. He may be a jerk. But his comments about the pace of play are 100% right on and I couldn’t agree with him more.

      • bexarama

        But really, what are they supposed to do, tell Nick Johnson “you’re only allowed to see three pitches per plate appearance”? Turn everyone into pretty much a hacker at the plate?

        Also, West calling the games “pathetic” and “embarrassing” is so horribly wrong. Do you want that guy umping Yankee games in the future? Or Red Sox games?

        • Tank Foster

          There is quite a bit they could do. You have to begin by asking how it is possible that Nick Johnson can stand up at the plate and take so many pitches. Well, because it works, is the answer. He gets walks because of the strike zone, and it leads to runs because they hit lots of homers today. More than ever, in the history of the game (they’re down a bit from the 5 years ago for sure, but the modern “era” is the biggest homerun era ever). The players capitalize on this and play a game of on-base percentage + power. This, unfortunately, isn’t the most exciting possible way baseball can be played.

          I think you make several, small adjustments that bring things back into balance. I’m not talking deadball era, I’m talking just tipping the scales a bit so that the game rewards more types of player.

          I didn’t think up any of these; they are mostly ideas from Bill James:

          1. Slightly more generous strike zone. Pitch counts begets the practice of trying to get the starting pitcher’s egg timer to run out of sand as soon as possible. Maybe if they call more strikes and punch a few more guys out, the pitchers will last longer. This will do several things: It will speed up the games by perhaps saving one pitching change per game, and it may make the batters a bit more defensive, so that guys like Nick Johnson won’t be able to lay off every marginal pitch. They’ll have to try to put balls in play more, which is good….it’s what you’re supposed to do, after all.

          2. Move the batters boxes off the plate a bit…about 4-6 inches, gradually, over a few years. The batters boxes were laid out when ballplayers were 5’8″ tall irish immigrants from NY. The average player is 6′ tall or more, and they stand closer to the plate than ever. So they can drive outside pitches, taking away one of the pitcher’s principle defenses. With umpires disciplining pitchers for throwing at batters, and batters wearing body armor, there is basically no part of the strike zone that can’t be homered out of. Change this by moving the batters boxes a little.

          3. Consider changing the foul strike rule. Yup. Why not? Yes, it makes for great drama once in a while in the World Series to have a 8 minute, 23 pitch at bat. But overall, this kind of thing is bad for the game. Maybe once a batter has 2 strikes on him, three more foul balls equals the third strike. Again, this will probably help pitch counts, and speed up games.

          4. Limit throws to first. A pitcher gets 2 unsuccessful throws to first in any given at bat. Every additional unsuccessful throw to first counts as a ball on the batter. This will encourage more risk taking for baserunners. If they end up getting better leads and stealing more bases, that will be good for the game.

          5. Limit pitching changes. Thank Mo it seems managers are starting to see through the LaRussa fallacy. That is, if you need 4 pitchers to navigate through the 7th inning, all 4 guys need to succeed or the strategy fails. Thank Mo, also, that people are starting to see the light with small sample sizes, and some managers don’t always go for the platoon advantage when it comes to late inning pitching decisions. But still…..making paying customers sit there while the miserable manager shuffles 5-6 pitchers in and out of the game isn’t right. The platoon advantages are often negligible anyway. The manager gets one pitching change during an inning (between innings are unlimited), and maybe even a game limit of 2 within-inning changes should be considered. Maybe the teams will need fewer pitchers, and they can add an additional position player who could be used to pinch hit and get the same platoon advantage that is pursued from the pitching side now.

          6. New equipment restriction: change the allowable bat dimensions to have slightly thicker handles and slightly smaller barrels. In other words, make the bats a bit less powerful. This will reduce homers, which will make the pitchers a bit less squeamish about pitching in the strike zone. It will improve fractionally the value of high average hitters.

          The sum of all these measures would be that pitchers would last longer into games, games would move faster, homers would decrease a little, and batters would be forced to make contact more, swing more, and put the ball in play more. Over time, skilled, fast, high average hitting players would become more valuable, and low average, slow, on-base percentage-walk machine-fat-sluggers would become a bit less valuable. There would be more speed in the game and on the bases, more contests between baserunners and fielders, and shorter, quicker at bats, fewer game interruptions for nonsense like throws to first and pitching changes, and overall faster, more exciting, athletic games.

          I think there is about a 1% chance any of these measures will be enacted. The owners are too happy and rich, the players wouldn’t allow most of it, or would fight it thru the players’ association, and in general people would think the changes to be too radical. But hey, we can hope.

          • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

            1. I see know reason to alter the fundamentals of the game by changing the strike zone.

            2. I’m intrigued by this idea.

            3. Again, I’m not interested in any fundamental changes to the game itself in the name of fixing an arbitrary problem.

            4. How would this ever work? After 2 pick off attempts, how do you prevent a runner from “leading off” the bag by 89 feet?

            5. Again, very stupid.

            6. But fans clearly want more home runs, not fewer.

            • Tank Foster

              1. Strike zones have been tinkered with many times in baseball history. No reason not to revisit it.

              2. I think this is the best of all the ideas.

              3. Well, they came up with the base on balls rule to prevent the pitchers from futzing around. Same thing with the foul strike rule…in response to very, very high offense levels in the 1880s/1890s, they gave the pitchers some help with the foul strike. In a game dominated by offense and power, and where it is a known strategy to try to eliminate pitchers on pitch counts, exacting a bit more of a penalty for foul balls isn’t an unreasonable thing to consider.

              4. The rule says “unsuccessful” throws. So, the thing preventing the runner from walking to second is that if he gets a big lead, well, you throw him out, or catch him in a rundown. If you catch the guy, it isn’t a ball. You can throw whenever you want, still, there’s just a penalty for making needless throws…and it limits the overall number of throws that would be made.

              5. What’s stupid about it? I think it’s stupid to use 3-4 pitchers in an inning, pursuing a platoon advantage that is often not even present. I think it’s stupid to make fans sit there and watch 15 minutes of warm up pitches every inning in the late innings of close games. What is wrong with limiting pitching changes? We limit offensive managerial moves in other ways, why not put a limit on pitching changes?

              6. I’m not so sure. Yes, fans love homers, and you certainly can’t eliminate homers, nor would these rule changes do that. If the choice is between today’s baseball, and 1967, where you had homers but almost no offense otherwise, then yes, I like today’s game better. But what fans like is action, and right now, a long fly ball is often the only action we see. I’m talking about tipping the scales so that it is a little harder to get a walk and hit a homer, in hopes that it will encourage players to become better hitters, and encourage better, faster athletes to come into the game.

          • bexarama

            They’ll have to try to put balls in play more, which is good….it’s what you’re supposed to do, after all.

            No, you’re supposed to get on base.

            Over time, skilled, fast, high average hitting players would become more valuable, and low average, slow, on-base percentage-walk machine-fat-sluggers would become a bit less valuable.

            And why isn’t there room for both of these in the game? The latter type of hitter was undervalued for years. I mean, Ichiro Suzuki and Prince Fielder are currently both very successful. You’re also saying the “slow on base percentage walk machine fat sluggers” guys aren’t skilled, which is just wrong. Mark Teixeira is closer to that than the first kind of guy. You want to make changes based on something you see as a problem that I don’t know how many other people see as a problem.

            OBP + power has pretty much always worked as an offensive approach to the game. It’s not like this came to be because of sabermetrics. Again, you personally want to see a certain type of game and you want to change the rules to fit that certain type of game.

            • Tank Foster

              No, the origins of the game aren’t consistent with “you’re supposed to get on base.” There wasn’t even a base on balls rule in existence when the game started. Standing there and waiting for an umpire to give you a free pass to first is not exciting sports. Swinging a stick and hitting a ball is exciting sports.

              As I said, sabermetrics has so successfully diagnosed baseball, people think that “on base percentage” is actually part of the sport. It isn’t. It’s an epi-phenomenon, created because people found ways to exploit loopholes in the game.

              It’s like Dean Smith using the 4 corners offense in UNC Basketball games in the 70s. It was a highly effective strategy, but it wasn’t basketball.

              Standing at the plate and taking walks is highly effective. But it isn’t baseball.

              What I want them to do is stop fucking around and start actually playing baseball.

              While I don’t claim to be a fortune teller, the problem I see in the pace of games, the style of play, etc., is going to threaten the viability of baseball in the next 20 years. Without a fan base, the game will suffer. The problem I see isn’t the sort of thing an avid, baseball loving fan appreciates. It’s the sort of thing a casual fan, or a potential fan, appreciates, though. I think the pace of the games and the style of play make baseball “boring” for most average people. If I were in charge, I think I’d want to change that.

              • bexarama

                a. this comment is very “get off my lawn”-y.

                b. Standing at the plate and taking walks is highly effective. But it isn’t baseball.

                What I want them to do is stop fucking around and start actually playing baseball.
                So… if pitchers aren’t throwing good pitches… batters should just swing at it anyway? Did you see yesterday’s game? Working the count and getting the highly effective Shields out for less effective middle relief was a large portion of why the Yankees won. Getting the SP out due to pitch counts and getting to RPs is generally a part of most teams’ offensive plans. Maybe you just don’t think that’s what baseball should be like, though.

                c. The problem I see isn’t the sort of thing an avid, baseball loving fan appreciates. It’s the sort of thing a casual fan, or a potential fan, appreciates, though. I think the pace of the games and the style of play make baseball “boring” for most average people.
                That doesn’t make any sense. Also, are you saying that because I don’t think taking walks and working the count isn’t real baseball, I’m not an “avid, baseball loving fan”? I’m just a casual/potential fan? Because I’m cranky and stuck inside due to an endless killer cold and that’s not true at all.

                Again, you personally don’t think walking and whatever is a part of the game. That’s fine. I personally think baseball is pretty awesome because it allows guys like Carl Crawford and Nick Johnson to be successful, without putting either at a disadvantage.

                • Tank Foster

                  If it came across as “get off my lawn,” then I didn’t express myself well. I intended no disrespect–sorry if I came across that way. Maybe I can explain it better.

                  What I’m trying to do is get you, or anyone, to step back and question your premises.

                  What is the game about, really? It’s about hitting a ball, and catching it, right? Take the base on balls rule.

                  The base on balls was created, essentially, to keep pitchers from futzing around and not giving the batter a pitch he could reasonably hit. That isn’t my opinion; that’s how it actually happened, in the early days of the game. The original rules called for the batter to be able to tell the pitcher where he wanted the pitch to be! Pitchers wanted to help their team win, so they tried to keep the batters from getting hits, first by refusing to throw the ball over the plate. So they created the base on balls so that the pitchers would stop fucking around and pitch.

                  Same principle applies now. Baseball still, at its core, is about hitting and fielding, offense and defense. You can make whatever rules you want; the rules are there to serve the game, to shape the game into an exciting sports spectacle, not to be obeyed and honored like gospel. If it turns out that a rule, like base on balls, ends up being exploited in a way that is contrary to its original intent, then you change it. The rule was not enacted to encourage batters to try to get a walk. It was enacted to ensure that they had a reasonable chance of getting a pitch to hit. There is definitely room for different opinions, but I think the situation with base on balls has gotten out of hand, and it would help the game alot to change it.

                  As for your comment about “avid” baseball fans, again I guess I didn’t explain myself well. I wasn’t disparaging your status as a baseball fan. In fact, I would see you as the “avid” fan. But I contend that an avid fan wouldn’t appreciate the subtle ways that the game can get out of whack. You love it, already. But imagine you know nothing about the game. None of the history, nobody in your family knows anything about it, etc. Would you be excited to watch a 3.5 hour Yankee Red Sox game? I meant that the casual, less-educated fan or potential fan cares LESS about tradition and history, and more about the overall excitement and appeal of the game.

                  I think as we go forward, the number of “genetic” baseball fans is going to dwindle. The game needs to be better if it wishes to attract LARGE NUMBERS of new fans.

                • bexarama

                  I’m sorry, this comment comes off as very rude. As I said, I am cranky because of a cold. Some of your points, I think are pretty good. A bigger strike zone, as long as it is consistent from ump to ump, isn’t a bad idea. But acting like players that work the count are somehow unskilled, and that players like Ichiro, Jeter, Cano, etc., are horribly disadvantaged in today’s game, is just wrong.

                • bexarama

                  I meant my comment was rude not yours.

                • Tank Foster

                  Yes, both players have skill.

                  But they are vastly different skills, and I think the distinction is important.

                  Ichiro’s skills involve action. Nick Johnson’s skills involve inaction. Yes, he has to have a good eye, and be a good thinker, and have patience.

                  But those attributes, being a good thinker, having a good eye, and being patient, are more suited to, say, chess, or golf, than they are to a sport, an action game, like baseball.

                  I didn’t mean to suggest that you would do away with walks, or that players like Johnson would be eliminated. But, to use your analogy, what I’m saying is that we have way too many Nick Johnsons and Nick Swishers, and far too few Ichiros. And largely, it’s because it’s alot easier to be Nick Johnson than it is to be Ichiro. If the rules were different, maybe we could encourage more players to play like Ichiro, and less to play like Nick Johnson.

                • DF

                  And largely, it’s because it’s alot easier to be Nick Johnson than it is to be Ichiro.

                  Is that really true, though? Nick Johnson is a unique combination of eyesight, hand-eye coordination, intelligence, and discipline, combined with exceptional strength, dexterity, and reflexes. Is he less athletic than Ichiro? Yes. But that doesn’t make him less skilled. It makes him more skilled, I’d argue. If Ichiro had Nick Johnson’s plate discipline, he might not ever make an out.

                  As for me, I absolutely find the OBP+power game compelling and exciting. You’re making an aesthetic argument proceeding from personal taste, and not everyone shares it. The rules that were established back in the late 1800’s have evolved as people have progressed in their understanding of the sport.

                  As a counterpoint, should soccer change its rules to encourage more scoring so that Americans will like it? I’d say no. Soccer should be what soccer is. If it’s popularity wanes as a result, I don’t see that as such a bad thing. Phenomena rise and fall, come into grace and fall out of grace. Let me ask you this: if baseball could significantly increase its appeal by allowing baserunners full contact, football style, a guy tries to tag you, you send him to the hospital- should that be done?

                • Dalelama

                  Here are a few simpler changes to speed up play that wouldnt tamper with core of game: increase width of plate, one catcher visit to each pitcher per inning, signify int walk and let batter go to first, and no on field warm up pitches for the relief pitcher except in case of injury replacement.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I wish I could read lips better, because it looked like when the umpiring crew got together yesterday to talk about the ball hitting the catwalk, the crew chief basically told the other umpires what they saw.

  • Klemy

    As a player, if you comment on the umpiring in the press, you get fined. The umpires should be held to the same standard in my opinion.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I agree but I’d take it a step further… Umps should be held to a HIGHER standard than players are held to. Players owe nobody impartiality, like umps do, and are not MLB’s on-field officials, like umps are.

      • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

        Agreed. Put it this way; if an NFL or NBA official did what West did, they’d be suspended within a day at the very least, and they’d probably be fired. Of course, you could say that about a lot of the things umpires do on the field.

        Without dragging politics too far into this, I love labor unions. But at the same time, they have to be realistic about their long term interests, and be more accomodating in disciplining or removing incompetent umpires. There’s plenty of good, young, umpires in the minor leagues who would be a tremendous addition to the game and the union. There’s no reason Marty Foster should be keeping them from the big leagues.

        • http://www.fackyouk.blogspot.com Matt @ Fack Youk

          Interestingly enough though, West is the President of the umpires’ union. I don’t think he’s going to be disciplining himself.

          I wonder though what role the umpires’ union had in the off-season firings. I believe the former umps who were working as supervisors were employed by MLB. I don’t know if they were still union members then; unions tend to frown upon self-evaluation.

      • Klemy

        I’d have to agree with you there. Good point.

    • Tank Foster

      An umpire should be fined or fired if he says something derogatory about individual players or a manager, yes. But I think you guys are looking at this all wrong. He is making a comment about the general way in which teams play baseball. It’s not analagous to a player complaining about an umpire’s strike zone or a bad call. It was West philosophizing about the game, using the Yankees and Red Sox as examples.

      I’m not defending umpires in general. They make so many bad calls, and Joe is so right in pegging them as “hot dogs” who make themselves the center of attention in punching out hitters, etc. McClelland is supposed to be the best, and he botched the call in the Yankees-Angels playoff game so poorly, I can’t believe he wasn’t fined or fired for it. I agree, MLB umpires leave much to be desired.

      But this statement, these comments about the speed of play, are perfectly fine, in my mind. Even if it was a point of view I didn’t agree with, I don’t have a problem with an umpire opining about a subject like this. Length of games does matter, so we should welcome as many opinions as we can get about it.

      Even a blowhard jerk’s opinions.

  • Mike HC

    I still think cutting an inning or two off the game is the answer. Pace is really not that big of an issue. It rarely gets so bad that the batter calling time or pitchers stepping off the mound really make that much a time difference.

    Cutting an inning or two off of games will not only shorten the length of games, but also cut down on all those middle reliever pitching changes. The pitching quality decreases so drastically from starters and elite relievers down to those middle relievers. Lets get rid of some of these guys (although the Yanks obviously love them as Joe P pointed out).

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      I still think cutting an inning or two off the game is the answer.

      Please tell me you’re not serious. PLEASE.

      • Mike HC

        ha. I’m serious. I know it sounds kinda crazy right off at first thought, but if you distance yourself from it for a little, it is not that bad.

        I love baseball, and would not want to change the way the game is played. Meaning using strategy, taking your time if necessary, making the proper adjustments, throws the first, etc …

        But the games take too fucking long. It is not 1920 anymore where there is nothing else to do entertainment wise but watch (or listen to) baseball.

        I think the quality of the game will actually improve by chopping off an inning or two as I wrote above by getting rid of the need to pitch the shittiest pitchers in the game.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          While we’re destroying sports, get rid of offsides in hockey and soccer, get rid of the net in tennis, make the holes 5 feet in circumference in golf, lower the basket to 7 feet in basketball and make the hoop the size of a hula hoop and make tackling an option in football.

          • Mike HC

            That changes the actual game play though. That makes it a slightly different sport. Shortening a baseball game does not. All the strategy stays the same, they just play one less inning. It is really not that big a deal

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              How would shortening the game not change the way baseball is played? This isn’t high school or Babe Ruth League when all the kids have to be home by a certain time or the next team needs the field or they’re just not strong enough to play nine innings. There is no need to cut off an inning.

              • Mike HC

                How would it change the game so much except allow the best players to play a larger percentage of games.

                Starters can will go the distance more often. Or it will go from starter to your best one or two relievers.

                How would it change the actual strategy of playing the game that much. Every other rule stays the same except everyone knows the game ends after 8. It really changes nothing

                • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                  Starters can will go the distance more often

                  So we’ll cheapen the idea of the complete game? This isn’t directed at you, but more of a general query, why is everyone so hung up on the lack of complete games? I know it’s nice to see a guy dominate for all nine innings and what not, but does the fact that fewer CGs are pitched today really make the game less enjoyable?

                  How would it change the actual strategy of playing the game that much. Every other rule stays the same except everyone knows the game ends after 8. It really changes nothing

                  Every middle relief pitcher in baseball would be without a job.

                  Managers would obviously employ different tactics in terms of running, pitching changes (if any), etc.

                  There would most definitely be strategic changes. How could there not be?

                • Mike HC

                  There would be strategic changes. But pitching changes and stealing, etc … are all part of baseball.

                  I’m saying my changes won’t change the actual game play. There won’t be any new, weird rules or wrinkles to have to abide by.

                  And I really think those 5th-7th innings where the starters are out, and the best relievers are not pitching, are not that necessary. It lessens the quality of play in my opinion as basically proven by how much the Yanks dominate those guys. Getting rid of those guys is good for baseball in my opinion.

            • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              “All the strategy stays the same, they just play one less inning.”

              This is false. The strategy changes substantially. Depth becomes much less of an issue, relievers are used differently, etc.

              • Mike HC

                Actual game play strategy. It would of course alter other strategies like when to bring in relievers and roster construction.

                • Mike HC

                  As has happened throughout baseball history with the DH, pitch counts, lowering the mound and many other things

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Pitch counts aren’t a rule, that’s a team-imposed strategy.

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  And this argument that since big changes have been made before, that this change should be made, is asinine. The DH, lowering the mound, and any other rule change you can think of are pretty much irrelevant to this discussion.

                  I don’t think people dislike this idea because it would change the game, I think people don’t like this idea because of HOW it would change the game. Saying that other changes have been made does nothing to counter those arguments.

                • Mike HC

                  Well, it counters the argument that things should be done one way because that is the way they have always been done.

                  If people don’t like the changes for how they will specifically affect the game, I can appreciate that. But if they are rejecting them just because it has always been done that way, those above mentioned examples are there to show baseball can survive and even thrive after fundamental rule changes.

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Ok… But people are responding negatively because they don’t see the need for this DRASTIC change, nor do they like what they expect would be the results of this change.

                  If people were saying baseball can’t be changed because they just don’t like change, your response would be valid. But I don’t think they’re saying that. They’re saying your change is unnecessary and that they don’t like what it would do to the game.

                • Mike HC

                  JMK wrote, “not to mention completely alters the fundamental history of the game.”

                  I used those examples just to show altering the fundamental history of the game alone is not a good enough reason not to do something.

                  He, and others, also made specific arguments for why it would be a bad fundamental changes, and I tried to address those as well as best I could.

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “I used those examples just to show altering the fundamental history of the game alone is not a good enough reason not to do something.”

                  Here’s the difference, and the flaw in your argument, though… The other changes you cite were reactions to what the balance of people – educated/informed/intelligent people in position to make these decisions – felt were big enough problems that what you consider drastic changes were necessary and appropriate reactions to those problems.

                  In this case, you are literally the only person involved in this conversation who thinks your proposed solution is a necessary and appropriate reaction to this problem.

                  Saying “well things have been changed in the past so we can change things now” is an extremely overly simple way of looking at this issue and arguing for your proposed change. What JMK is saying, if I might paraphrase him (and I hope he corrects me if I’m wrong), is that you are ‘UNNECESSARILY altering the fundamental history of the game’, not that altering the game or the way it’s played or the history books are necessarily to be avoided at all costs. If the problem were big enough, and your solution reasonable enough, I think he’d be on board… But I don’t think he, nor anyone other than you, believes either of those things to be true.

                • Mike HC

                  I think you are right on target. No argument from me there.

                  Consider me a visionary then. A trailblazer. Or a complete imbecile. Either way, just because most people think one way, does mean that way of thinking is correct (and I get that these are general philosophical sayings that overly simplify the point). I don’t mind being on an island all by myself. In fact, I prefer it.

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  A word of advice, if you don’t mind me adding my two cents…

                  Prefer to hold the most reasonable/best position you can hold, whether you’re on an island by yourself or not.

                • Mike HC

                  Advice received. Definitely some good advice.

                  I tend to not think too much, or speak up about, the things the majority of people agree with me on. I like to focus on the things where I am in the relatively extreme minority.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

                  I’m a little late to this party (sorry, had to do a story for work), but just to clarify:

                  Perhaps my wording wasn’t the best. By “altering fundamental history” I mean to say that baseball games that are 9 innings serve a purpose, even if it seems an arbitrary number due to the longevity and relative lack of changes made to the game (by contrast to football, basketball, etc).

                  I’m not against altering rules because of some hackneyed “I’m against it because it’s always been done that way” system of belief, but rather because I don’t see any legitimate reason to do so, and offer that it would be a detriment to baseball, which would damage some of the fundamental aspects of baseball (bullpen management, team depth, positional values, roster construction, the commercial and monetary aspects, team values, etc.). That’s the history I’m speaking of.

                  If you can come up with a better reason than “I think they’re too long and so do a few fans and umpires,” I’m all ears and would be very willing to entertain things we could change.

                  I simply think this is drastic and unnecessary. If you want to shorten the game, start with smaller measures. Enforce the rules that are present and see where that gets you. If that’s not enough, implement rules that combat some of those minor problems that add up (pitchers taking too long, mound visits, stepping out of the box, etc.) but shortening a game should be a last resort option, one that’s only seriously discussed when all other changes and recommendations have clearly shown that they are unable to make any dent in the perceived problem.

                  Sorry this was so long-winded. Basically, Congressman paraphrased what I wanted to convey.

                • Ryan

                  I hear as many people complain about the length of the season as much as the length of the game as reasons why they don’t like baseball. So in addition to making games seven innings, why don’t we change the season from 162 games to 16 games.

                  that way, you’ll only need 2 pitchers – an ace and a closer – instead of all of those #2,3,4, and 5 SPs, MRs, LOOGYs, setup men, developing starters, etc. The game would be much more efficient. Especially once the strikezone is increased, pickoffs are eliminated, batters strike out on foul balls, games are shortened to 7 innings, and anybody who can work a count or launch HRs is replaced by slap happy hitters (.300/.300/.350) who can steal bases (unmolested).

                  I think this will all definitely improve the game and make everyone in america a huge fan. totally worth it.

              • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

                Um, those are pretty big strategic factors. How you handle a pitching staff is probably THE biggest strategic aspect of the game.

                • Mike HC

                  Yes, absolutely and my changes intend to alter those strategy decisions.

                  The key is that it does not alter the way the game is actually played on the field. Baseball will still be baseball. There will be no “clock” speeding the game up. No rule on how often you can throw to throw a pick off move to first, no rigid pace of play mandates etc …

                • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

                  It’ll just be a high school game.

          • Tank Foster

            While we’re destroying sports, get rid of offsides in hockey and soccer, get rid of the net in tennis, make the holes 5 feet in circumference in golf, lower the basket to 7 feet in basketball and make the hoop the size of a hula hoop and make tackling an option in football.

            Why is it “destroying” baseball? Various sports actually have made changes in things like offsides rules…I think golf did actually play a few tournaments in the 1930s with 8-inch cups.

            Baseball wasn’t created in the heavens and bestowed upon us like manna. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be for entertainment.

            I love baseball, and the Yankees, but I can hardly watch Yankee / Red Sox games anymore, because they are too difficult to sit through. Moments of excitement, interspersed by hours of boredom.

            The NFL is the best sports organization in the world, at least as far as the popularity of the game and the “brand.” And the NFL changes their rules all the time. Where they put the goalposts? Changed. Where you kick from? Changed. What counts as a tackle? Changed. What counts as a touchdown? Changed.

            They constantly change it, with the idea being that the game can always, and should always, get better.

            Baseball enthusiasts, many of them, and most owners, think the rules were inscribed on stone tablets from mount Ararat. They think, stupidly, that you can’t decide “well, maybe we’d better change the foul strike rule.”

            Again–baseball has most of its core fans clustered in 3-4 large city/metro markets. The rest of the country has no interest in the game. If you want baseball to succeed, and survive, you have to make sure it remains exciting. The homerun era has been fun, and homeruns are exciting. But in almost every other way, the game today is less fun to watch and less exciting than in the last 40 years. The effects of this might not be immediate, but on its present course, baseball is headed for a crisis of fan interest.

            It’s time to make some changes. It can’t hurt to try.

            • king of fruitless hypotheticals

              dude, i was with EVERY SINGLE ONE of your posts until this:

              Baseball wasn’t created in the heavens and bestowed upon us like manna.

              now you’re just batshit insane like the rest of them.

              :(

        • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “I know it sounds kinda crazy right off at first thought, but if you distance yourself from it for a little, it is not that bad.”

          Just for the sake of accuracy/full disclosure… I think you’re still the only person who has successfully distanced him or herself enough from this idea to make it seem “not that bad.”

          • Mike HC

            hahaha … probably true. Although I know a couple of people who agree with me, or at least don’t think it is such a crazy idea. But point taken.

          • Tank Foster

            Why is it a bad idea? Seriously?

            Why is 9 a magic number?

            Pitchers are limited to a magic number of pitches.

            Why not consider an 8 inning or a 9 inning game?

            If 9 is good, why not 10?

            • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              I stand corrected. Mike HC is not the only person to like this idea.

            • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              PS: I won’t bother responding as to why it’s a bad idea, I think that’s been covered elsewhere in this conversation. I will say, though, that if you’re cool with changing the number of innings because, hey, why is 9 a magic number… Then why not have 2 outs per inning? Why not 4 strikes per K instead of 3? Yes, these numbers are somewhat arbitrary on some level, but they’re also the backbone of the game. And like I said elsewhere… I’m not saying you can’t change the rules just because they’re the rules, I just think you have to have a VERY compelling reason why you’re changing the rules, and you have to have a VERY compelling reason why your proposed rule change is the best or only way to accomplish your VERY compelling goal… And I’m completely unconvinced that this proposed rule change (8 innings games) accomplishes those things.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      That’s absurd. It rewards teams with little depth, not to mention completely alters the fundamental history of the game. Beyond that, would you lower the requirement of 25-man active rosters since games would be shortened, thus lessening the need for all of those pesky middle relievers?

      Do you similarly propose football cut a quarter out? They have less live action than baseball.

      • Mike HC

        The DH completely altered the fundamental history of the game too. So did lowering the mound. So did using steroids. Things change. Length of games have gotten to the point where I think something should be done.

        And I don’t think football should but a quarter out. That is a timed game where the length of games are pretty predictable, and they do have a 40 second play clock which regulates pace as well.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          Lowering the mound happened because the pitchers had an absolutely unfair advantage in the late ’60’s. The length of the game doesn’t give one team an advantage over another.

          • Mike HC

            unfair advantage is quite relative. Who sets the standard for the “fair” balance between hitting and pitching? They lowered the mound simply because they wanted more offense. I will cut an inning off the game simply because the games are too long.

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              But what is so wrong with the games being “too long?” Generally, they’re not too long because of timeouts, fights, “white space,” etc. Games go long–esp. for good teams–because they play good baseball. Also, “too long” is relative. I’ve got no problem with a 3+ hour game. Again, the length of the game–time or innings wise–does not alter competition like lowering the mound, implementing the DH, etc.

              • Mike HC

                Well, that goes back to the original point. If you have no problem with length of games, then my proposition is completely unnecessary. It is under the assumption that games are too long.

                And to the pace part, I agree. Pace is not the problem and don’t think it needs to change. That is why I want to change the amount of innings of “good baseball,” not limit good baseball by making rules for pace.

                • Mike HC

                  And I think it will actually make baseball better. The quality of pitching will be better by eliminating the need for a middle reliever or two.

                • Tank Foster

                  You know what would make it impossible? The Players’ Association. All the clauses, written into contracts, with incentive-based payments for innings pitched, homers, etc. I love your idea, but it would wreak havoc with the record books to instantly eliminate about 8-10% of the innings played.

                • Mike HC

                  Well, in an earlier thread, I had a follow up idea to this but decided against bringing it up in this thread just to keep things on the main issue.

                  I also proposed getting rid of the DH and pitchers spot in the lineup, thus allowing the 8 position players there usual amount of at bats.

                • Mike HC

                  their

            • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              “Who sets the standard for the ‘fair’ balance between hitting and pitching?”

              The balance of opinion sets the standard, the same way it does in just about any walk of life.

              And, by that standard, your plan to shorten the game appears to get nowhere. YOU will cut an inning off the game because YOU think the games are too long, but NOBODY else, here at least, agrees with you.

              • Mike HC

                Well yea. If people don’t think the games are too long, then there is really nothing else to discuss.

                I happen to think they are too long and this is my proposition for shortening the games. Joe West’s proposition was to whine to the media and bad mouth the two best teams in baseball.

                • Tank Foster

                  I like your idea as much as any of the Bill James ideas I wrote above. Why not? You would improve the pace of games alot, obviously, and wouldn’t have to change any other aspect of anything.

              • Tank Foster

                “Who sets the standard for the ‘fair’ balance between hitting and pitching?”

                The balance of opinion sets the standard, the same way it does in just about any walk of life.

                What makes you think that the balance of opinion is making judgements in major league baseball? Whose opinions? Do they poll the players, the coaches, the non-ownership front office folks, the umpires, the fans?

                The owners make the decisions. There aren’t many checks and balances in the system to stop them from making the decision that benefits them most in the short term, either.

                Nobody has to worry…..ideas like Bill James, or Mike HC’s, have zero chance of happening as long as the money machine keeps printing Ben Franklins for the Owners’ Cabal. But one day, maybe soon, the TV networks are going to cut back on what they’ll pay for baseball games, and….

                Well, I’ve written too much in this thread already.

                • Mike HC

                  Yea, cutting down on the number of innings will take money away from the owners and the players. I highly doubt anything like this happens until it makes fiscal sense.

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Whose opinions? The opinions of those in position to make these decisions, which opinions are surely affected by the balance of public opinion, the balance of opinion coming out of the baseball media (both MSM and online etc.) and opinions/sentiments from other outlets.

                  The owners don’t make the decisions… They have what I consider to be a disproportionate amount of power over decisions, but they don’t make decisions. If you want to nail down who the decision-makers are, it’s MLB and the MLBPA.

      • Tank Foster

        Football DID, however, enact lots of rule changes in the 80s to shorten games. No, they didn’t eliminate a quarter, but they eliminated lots of sources of delays in the game, so that the 60 minutes of play time actually elapses faster.

        NFL = smart leadership.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Worst. Idea. Ever.

      • Mike HC

        So if baseball games ended after 8 innings that would be such a huge deal? I don’t see how that would change very much except for the fact it has never been done like that before. Nothing else about the game really changes all that much.

  • AJ

    Edited by RAB. We have an off-topic thread. Please put off-topic comments there and not in the threads, please.

    • JD

      Did you miss RYAN Mauer…who allegedly is still bound to becoming a free agent this offseason AFTER signing an extension with the Twins?

  • bexarama

    Huh, that Fack Youk story is interesting. West just seems like a jackass. The dumb columnists that were saying “West should be praised for telling the truth!!!” didn’t get it. It’s not that the games are too long, necessarily (though that’s a function of the teams being good. The Red Sox shouldn’t be punished for having Youkilis; the Yankees shouldn’t be punished for having the Nicks.), it’s that calling MLB’s two biggest teams “pathetic” and “embarrassing” in public is awful. Heck, it’d be awful if he was talking about the Padres and Mets.

    As one of the comments on that FY entry says, I’m glad Rivera, Jeter, and Pettitte weren’t silent in response to this. They’re three of the you-know-what so they’re pretty well-respected. Heck, even the Red Sox had some pretty decent comments about the whole thing (I posted Pedroia’s response in the OT thread). I really expected everyone in baseball to just kind of pretend it never happened so the annoyance over the comments is pretty awesome.

    • Klemy

      And the game could be sped up if umpires like Joe West would call a strike zone according to the book, rather than their own interpretation of miming a postage stamp.

    • CS Yankee

      Agreed, I just hope that Jeet, Mo & Andy don’t get pinched by West or his croonies because of this.

      If he is this brash & bold with the words, what’s the likehood of West calling an extra ball wide a strike against #2 or not calling a strike on the corners for Mo or Andy? Or even taking it into his own hands on speeding games along by widening the zone?

  • mryankee

    I think its a matter of the start of game times. If the Yankees and Sox ar playing weekday games start them at 6:00PM intead of 7:00pm. If they playing on the weekends start the friday games at 6:00pm. If they need a prime time game make the saturday game at 8:00pm and the sunday game at 5:00pm. The length of the games will probably not change but people will not be up watching as late.

  • CS Yankee

    You can also look at it being a time/value market thing…whereas, the Yankees/Red Sox are the highest viewed, highest scalped events in baseball.

    A good seat at Coors (or most anywhere) is around $80-100 per seat unless certain (Yanks, BoSox) are in town, then they are $250-400 per, and the front offices are raking big coin by charging more for these premium games.

    So if your paying $250 versus $100, you might as well get 3 hours of entertainment opposed to 2:20 (or whatever it is “suppose” to take)

    • Klemy

      And I’m sure we’ll never hear complaints from the stadium vendors on length of games when the Yankees or Red Sox are in town.

  • dkidd

    game-length is only an issue because reporters have deadlines. i don’t believe there are legions of fans out there calling for quicker games. in my experience, some people are just bored by baseball period, no matter how fast the game moves. the rest of us will watch as along as it takes

  • Tom Zig

    If MLB really wants to shave time off the length of games, how about they reduce the amount of commercials between innings. (Not going to happen).

  • Hughesus Christo

    As someone else stated, the problem is not length of game—it’s pace. Stepping out of the batters box, unnecessary trips to the mound, not having relievers ready, etc. if the PACE is addressed, the length will follow.

  • Nickel

    Here’s one aspect of the game that really slows things down, and maybe someone has mentioned it and I missed it. I don’t want to see the strike zone changed, innings taken away, or anything to seriously tamper with the integrity of the game. However, what about when a team deliberately stalls so that a reliever can loosen up?

    7th inning starts…no one in bullpen…leadoff double…BOOM…relievers get busy…fielder goes to talk to picther…several pickoff throws…catcher goes to talk to pitcher…manager takes SLOOOOOW walk to mound…waits for ump to trudge towards the mound…manager finally signals for a reliever.
    Sometimes this process can take over ten minutes. I don’t know what can be done to take care of this, this is where games start to lag.

    Maybe…once a relief pitcher starts to get loose, the pitcher in the game has to throw a complete at-bat to at least one hitter before he leaves the game??? I don’t know. I’m just brainstorming here.

    • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

      Maybe you let the umpire make a note of it, lodge a complaint with the league for review, and if the league determines there was intentional stalling they can hand out fines to individuals?

    • Tank Foster

      “7th inning starts…no one in bullpen…leadoff double…BOOM…relievers get busy…fielder goes to talk to picther…several pickoff throws…catcher goes to talk to pitcher…manager takes SLOOOOOW walk to mound…waits for ump to trudge towards the mound…manager finally signals for a reliever.
      Sometimes this process can take over ten minutes. I don’t know what can be done to take care of this, this is where games start to lag.”

      I do.

      New rule: Managers will be permitted to make one pitching change within an inning per game. Changes made to start an inning are not limited in any way.

      So, they can do the stall thing once. They’ve got one free move per game, that’s it.

      • Nickel

        Well, I don’t know if I like that either. Whether a pitcher is brought in mid-inning or not, the manager should reserve the right to pull him if he can’t get anyone out. Think back to some of those days in early 2009 when Girardi would bring in Jose Veras, only to find he couldn’t find the plate. Aren’t you glad that Girardi could pull him before he gave up 6 runs in two-thirds of an inning? It happens sometimes that relievers have bad days, even good ones. Part of being a good manager is identifying that when it happens and pulling him before things get out of hand.

        I know people have made the argument that Girardi over-manages the bullpen, and makes too many changes increasing the likelihood that he’ll bring in someone who has a bad day. I understand that, but given the choice between that and riding a Scott Proctor until his arm falls off, I’ll take the pitching changes, as long as the pitchers are ready. There are two mounds out there in the pen. There shouldn’t be so much stalling. If it would help the situation, I’d be all for having three-mounded bullpens.

        • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

          LOL. It’ll be awesome; we’ll get a 40 minute inning as some scrub can’t get anyone out in the name of making the games shorter.

        • Tank Foster

          Go ahead and LOL. For years, before Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa, the vast majority of baseball games were played with only rare within-inning pitching changes.

          I think many of you guys probably haven’t been watching baseball for more than 10-15 years…

          • CS Yankee

            Dude chill.

            If you want a shorter game, use Tivo

            I want good baseball and this includes the chess match during the late innings.

            BTW, don’t kniow about Brien but I’ve been watching for over 35 years and the pen has evolved only with less 2 inning guys plus a LOOGY. using a 7th & 8th inning guy isn’t taking longer but actually reducing time as they are warmed up and ready to attack.

          • Nickel

            I have been watching baseball games for 25 years, thank you very much. Spare me the “that’s not how bullpens used to be used” argument. If you want to go back to those days, you can start by contracting about 4 to 6 baseball teams so that the pitching talent isn’t quite so watered down. Then maybe some of these out-of-work starters can be relief pitchers on other teams and then everyone can have the luxury of having several long-relief men that can pitch several innings at a time and not get hammered. But these days, if you’re good enough to do that, there are enough bad teams out there that will at least give you a shot at starting. So, we’re stuck with what we’ve got at this point.

            • Ryan

              exactly. the best way to reduce the length of games is through efficient and effective pitching.

              Baseball is the one truly dichotomous sport – offense tries to always prolong the game while pitching/defense tries to keep it short.

              If you want the games shorter, enhance the effectiveness of the pitching. Whether it’s a return to the original strikezone (knees and letters as opposed to the knees and belt of the past 15 years), raising the mound, or contraction, that’s the best way to speed up games.

              The only one that i could potentially endorse is the return to the original strikezone — watch a classic game from the 60s – those hitters had it tough. However, I’d rather see NO changes and am perfectly happy with the product on the field.

            • Tank Foster

              “Spare me the ‘that’s not how bullpens used to be used’ argument.” You guys really don’t like to be challenged, do you?

              I won’t “spare you” that argument. It’s a perfectly good, rational argument.

              The effectiveness of pitchers is one factor behind the use of relief pitchers, but it is definitely not the only factor. By far, the most significant factor in the usage pattern of pitchers is pitch counts. Starting pitchers pitch significantly fewer innings because they are pulled after a shorter pitch count than before. Yes, effectiveness plays into that as well, but the pitch count is what drives it. And actually I’m not sure the quality issue actually matters all that much. Quality in pitching is relative, and although run scoring is definitely up, the variation in pitching quality from team to team today is not appreciably different than in any other time in baseball history; the quality disparity may actually be LESS than in past years. Run scoring is up so much that most teams don’t really pull starting pitchers any earlier than they would in the past on account of effectiveness….they let the pitchers stay in there and give up the runs. They always pull them when they reach their pitch count limit, though, irrespective of the number of runs scored. Exceptions are when a pitcher is doing so bad that he can’t get out of an inning. But in general, whether they give up 2 runs or 6, most starters stay in until they reach 100, or whatever count is considered their limit for that day.

              And the usage of relievers over and above this has definitely changed. You mention the LOOGY. In addition, teams have increased the number of pitchers on the 25 man roster by 2 and sometimes 3 pitchers over what was typical in the 1970s. Managers pursue platoon matchups in late innings of close games. They have not always done this. When this practice started – situational pitchers – it was Tony LaRussa as the main poster boy, and it was not done by every manager in every game. Today, this practice is much more universal. The evolution of “the closer” is also evidence of changing usage. In the 1970s and 80s, the relief ace was not restricted to the 9th inning, or even the 8th/9th. It was common for a relief ace to pitch more than 1 and sometimes more than 2 innings.

              I believe the single factor, or the single changeable factor, in the effectiveness of pitchers today relative to, say, the 1960s and 70s, is the outside corner. In the past, pitchers were able to brush batters off the inside part of the plate. Today, umpires and the league have cracked down on throwing at batters (which may be a good idea….I’m not debating the decision, just commenting on its effects), which makes the hitters a bit more comfortable taking a stance so close to the plate. Also, the legality of body armor on arms/elbows also makes the batters more fearless. The result is that hitters can reach outside pitches with the good part of the bat and drive them.

              It used to be considered a fool’s game to try to drive an outside corner pitch. You’d hit a weak ground ball if you tried to pull it; you were supposed to try to hit a line drive the other way. Today, more pitches are reachable/pullable, and with the modern, thin-handled, large barrell, lightweight bat, batters have learned that it is definitely do-able to drive an outside pitch over the fence in the opposite field.

              Finally, players and coaches have caught onto the fact that walks are good things, and players work to develop the ability to draw walks. Along with the pitch count limits, we have created a new strategy in baseball, to outlast the opponent’s starter by running his pitch count up.

              (This is the equivalent of Dean Smith’s Four Corner’s stalling/delay basketball offense.)

              I’m getting off topic…..anyway, you increase pitchers’ effectiveness in several ways. You do things which foil the batters’ ability to run up pitch counts, which decrease their effectiveness in hitting and driving outside pitches. I’ve mentioned the ways you can do this in other comments, but changing the strike zone, the placement of the batters’ boxes, and the regulations on bat weights and dimensions should all be considered.

  • Jammy Jammers

    Each team can have 6 one-minute time outs to use in the 9 innings while on defense.
    They can be used to help stall for a reliever to warm up or for mound meetings.
    Maybe a shot clock can be used for pitchers.
    If pitchers just pitch the damn ball, then hitter won’t need to step out less.
    You could speed up the game and still have at-bats with many many pitches.
    One loop hole for a pitcher to get around it would be to throw over to first.

    I’m a fool.

    • Jammy Jammers

      or less than 6 timeouts.