The Longer the Better

Screen grab lifted from Nate at Thin Line Between Clever and Stupid and used without permission.

I will never tire of watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees…especially when it’s as much of a slugfest as last night’s game turned out to be. 18 hits and 14 runs in this game. That, to me, is baseball. And guess what? When you get a total of 18 hits and 14 runs in a game, that takes a little while to play. Someone should tell that to Mark Teixeira*.

“It’s brutal,” said Teixeira, the Yankees’ first baseman. “I can’t stand playing a nine-inning game in four hours. It’s not baseball. I don’t even know how to describe it. If I was a fan, why would I want to come watch people sitting around and talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in the dirt? Four-hour games can’t be fun for a fan, either.”

If I’m being fair (or at least honest) I can sympathize with the players who have to play the marathon games that Red Sox/Yankees games almost always turn into (although I don’t consider a four-hour game THAT much of a marathon).  And the fans who attend the games, they get my understanding if they start to watch the clock while they’re at the park.  (I’m a pedestrian who often relies on public transportation and/or a cab to get me home after a game.  The idea of fighting off hoards of people in Kenmore Square for a cab or a spot on the subway platform any time past 11pm doesn’t appeal to me at all.)

But what I don’t get, what I will never get, is the average person who claims to be a huge baseball fan complaining that baseball goes on too long.  (I also don’t get people who make money off of baseball complaining that there is too much of it.)  I love baseball.  As I’ve often mentioned, even though I live in the Red Sox market, I get the Extra Innings package through Comcast because I genuinely enjoy watching the game, Red Sox or not, and spend a lot of my free time in the summer doing so.  I have been one of those people sitting in Fenway at 10:30 and eyeing the scoreboard and the clock wondering if I’ll be able to get my bus or if I’m going to have to scrap that plan and take a cab home (as a matter of fact, transportation home is one of the reasons I haven’t been to many games this year.  Many generous people have offered but if the game DOES go long and I have to take a cab it can get a bit expensive and I’m not in a position right now to pull that off very often).  But I’ve never been at a game where I honestly thought “Gee, I wish this game was shorter” just on general principle.  If you are a baseball fan, and I’m guessing you are if you’re reading me, you already know what kind of game baseball is.   You’ve decided to patronize a game with no clock…I find complaining about how long it takes to play ridiculous.

And it’s annoying when it’s the running commentary through an entire series.  It seems more writers complain than fans but a lot of the fans are joining in as well and I don’t understand it.  Most networks block off three hours for a game…is a four hour game really that big a difference?  When I’m watching a Yankees/Red Sox game, I block off the four hours, not expecting the game to end any earlier than 11pm (when it’s a 7pm start).  If you’re enjoying what you watch, why do you want it to end sooner?

For the record, last night’s game lasted 3 hours and sixteen minutes.

Ultimately, here’s my problem with people who complain about how long the game lasts…give me an alternative.  Are you saying that you don’t want the batters to get a lot of hits?  Are you saying that patient hitters taking walks isn’t part of your game?  Do you not want to watch batters foul off pitch after pitch in an attempt to frustrate the pitcher into making a mistake that turns into a hit or a walk?  Teixeira complains about trips to the mound and people sitting around talking back and forth (huh?)…in my opinion it is the commercial breaks that suck the life out of the timing of a baseball game, not the actual action on the field.

The Red Sox and Yankees games will always go on long because the Yankees and the Red Sox are very good teams.  Asking for shorter games is asking for games that aren’t as good as most of these games are.  There are so many things people can genuinely complain about when it comes to Major League Baseball…I see no reason to complain that there is too much baseball.

*I reluctantly link to Tyler Kepner.  The idea that he writes for the New York Times yet  tweets things like  this:

Home run onto Landsdowne St., fastball to the back. Stay classy.

astounds me and shows me how unprofessional a professional can be.

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