It seems to me…folks today are suffering from a combination of IG (instant gratification), TLP (total lack of patience) and TLC (total lack of concentration — not tender loving care). I use the acronyms because in conversation, advertising and in general references, it seems to be too much trouble to say the full name of anything. Instead, we only use initials even if it might be confusing. And, this only emphasizes my premise that we have become so impatient that we live by tweets, texts and other shorthand communication.
In the past, when folks wrote letters or even sent postcards, there was more than just the message. There was penmanship, the choice of words used, how thoughts were presented and a bit of the person transmitted along with the message.
Today, people speak in a type of uniform code with abbreviations and acronyms to replace words, phrases or sentences. So, it is no surprise to me to see the growing dissatisfaction folks are showing with the slow pace of baseball and their call for changes to speed it up.
And so, since baseball is coming to the Fredericksburg-Stafford area next year, I feel compelled to speak in defense of keeping the grand old game the way it is.
Unlike other sports, a baseball game is over when it is over. While the game is scheduled for nine innings, if the score is tied in the ninth, the game continues until one team is in the lead and the home team has the last out, unless it is in the lead. If tied, the game could go on for many more innings and for hours with no score inning after inning. Albeit, during these scoreless innings, we see superb athletes catching, throwing, sliding, hitting and running and using skills that equal any other sport. And, for the most part, they do this without ever touching an opponent except for tagging an opposing player. In comparison, football, hockey, soccer and basketball all have a set time for completion and if the score is tied when the allotted time is up then the winner is settled by a timed period called overtime or sudden death or something that ends the game as quickly as possible.
This difference in the amount of time an individual game can last and the required slowness of each of the nine innings is apparently what has led folks who suffer from IG, TLP or the negative acronym TLC to complain the game is too slow. In fact, just a few days ago, a major league player on the White Sox, Tim Anderson, declared, “The game’s boring.” So, it seems that this current generation of players along with their contemporary fans and officials of the game now have grown impatient with the game’s pace. They want it to speed up, move faster, end quicker to satisfy this new generation of baseball fans and their short attention span.
Unfortunately, Anderson has convinced the sports company Adidas to sponsor a TV ad in which Anderson says the game needs changing. He is quoted as saying, “The
game is boring. Watch me change it.”
But, what Anderson and others, and maybe Addidas as well, fail to recognize is that the slowness of the game is what makes it unique; what makes it baseball. The pitcher’s windup, the full count all adds to the drama of the game.
An intentional walk that requires four full pitches out of the strike zone is a strategy. I suppose the pitcher could just shout “Let him walk,” but the way the intentional walk is done again adds to the uniqueness of the baseball. The changing of pitchers adds a lot of time, but is an essential part of strategy. I suppose we could have two or three pitchers standing on the pitcher’s mound waiting their turn and all the team manager would have to do is shout “next.” But, the added drama of the new pitcher walking or jogging from the bullpen adds to the drama and suspense of the game.
Unlike football, basketball, hockey and soccer, where players exit and enter the game very quickly without announcements, baseball is slower and low key.
In baseball a voice over the loudspeaker tells the crowd, “now playing third base is …” In some other sports, if it wasn’t for the numbers on the players’ shirts, we wouldn’t know who replaced who. In baseball there is no penalty box, or five fouls and you’re out of the game.
In baseball, a player, short of injury or unsportsmanlike conduct, must do something extremely bad to be made to leave the game. And, for the most part, baseball players unlike the other major sports don’t use violence or bodily contact to succeed. There is no tackling, pushing, shoving, banging against the boards, giving the shoulder, or other forms of bodily contact that rules the other sports. Baseball games move slowly because they are quietly exciting and civilized and should stay that way.
And, for certain, the lyrics of that grand old song, “Take me out to the ballgame” tells us why baseball shouldn’t change.
“Take me out to the ball game.
Take me out with the crowd.
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out,
at the old ball game.”
Harvey Gold is a contributing writer at InsideNova. Reach him at Stafford-News@insidenova.com.