I sat down Tuesday night to take in a Twins game. By the time I got up to run to the kitchen - after one inning - my back was all crinked and my right foot had fallen asleep.
I persevered and continued watching. Deep into the game, it dawned on me: I have better things to do.
Like build an addition to my house.
Like memorize A through D in the phone book.
Like turn 43.
Like spay my cats.
Like read the Bible.
Like replace the brakes in my truck.
Like extract a jar of maple syrup from one of the trees in my front lawn, make pancakes from scratch and eat a full meal.
The way Major League Baseball games are going this year, I certainly would've had time to do at least one of those things. Heck, all of them, if we went into extra innings.
Baseball in its purest form is beautiful. But what we're being presented in 2014 is not pure and beautiful. It's painful, thanks to the rubes who run it and the players and umpires on the field. Many suggestions have been made to speed up the game. We do need some changes, but we have to tread carefully - this sport is still a jewel and we don't want to tarnish it.
We just need to speed it up. The first thing baseball has to do is go after the pitcher and the batter - for the most part, they're the ones in control.
The pitcher? We need a 10-second pitch clock after a ball or strike (not a foul ball or a hit). If he can't get his necklace tucked under his shirt and figure out what pitch to throw in 10 seconds, penalize him. Automatic ball.
The hitter? In last Thursday night's game, Texas slugger Adrian Beltre fouled off a pitch. Then he proceeded to walk around the batter's box - behind the catcher and umpire - and back to the right side of the plate. Then he made some adjustments to his uniform, exhibited some strange, swaying-like body movements and settled into the batter's box. All told, 22 seconds had passed from the time he fouled the pitch off until Kyle Gibson's next pitch. Tuesday night, Twins reliever Casey Fien appeared to be trying to work fast, getting the ball back after a pitch, staying on the mound and peering in for the sign. But the Milwaukee hitter at the time apparently wasn't in a hurry. Fien had to patiently wait five or six seconds just for the hitter to decide he was ready to swing again and find his way to the batter's box.
Fien looked frustrated. I felt his pain and changed the channel to "Up in Smoke" on IFC.
The game last Thursday took 3 hours and 24 minutes to complete. And one run was scored.
It took nine pitchers (that's seven pitching changes and nearly 60 warm-up tosses all told) to go through a one-run, nine-inning game. I'm all for strategy and cat-and-mouse games between managers, so we can't keep them from making pitching changes, but maybe we don't let them re-warm up on the mound. Bullpen pitchers throw plenty before entering a game - they need eight more pitches when they get in.
Tuesday night's game took 3 hours, 18 minutes to complete, although the game was delayed after a fan fell from about 15 feet above the Brewers' bullpen. That delay notwithstanding, we're still looking at a 3-hour-plus game. I'm glad the fan is going to be OK, but I wonder if he simply jumped just for something to do as the game slogged its way into the eighth inning.
Wednesday's game against the Brewers flew along and finished in a tidy 3 hours, 4 minutes. Shoot, I blinked and the game was in the ninth. On Thursday, the Brewers spent 3 hours, 26 minutes to finish off the Twins. It's like the only reason to watch pro baseball anymore is for the throwbacks (of course I would like to be buried in a powder-blue Twins uniform).
We can cut game times by making small tweaks. We can cut game times by taking this instant replay idea and shoving it. Baseball isn't made for instant replay. Since when did we have to get every call right? Umpires and humans, they make mistakes, that's why we love baseball. I'd much rather see an irate manager out storm out of the dugout and kick sand on an ump's pants than watch one mosey out to the field to politely request a replay.
Baseball is baseball, but it's not the game I grew up with. It's slow, oftentimes boring and frustrating to watch. Makes me sleepy.
Next game, I think I'll crack open the Good Book. By the time I hit the New Testament, I should be able to catch Glen Perkins record the final out.