Who Are You Telling To Hurry Up?

I mean, really. Did everybody see this item on Yahoo Sports, via the AP?

Major League Baseball made one recommendation without waiting. It’s directly calling the Yankees, the Dodgers and Boston slow pokes, and telling them to speed up.

The Yankees (3:08), Red Sox (3:04) and Dodgers (3:02) played the longest nine-inning games last year, STATS LLC said; the MLB average was 2 hours, 52 minutes. Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes) was fined $5,000 for slow play and the champion Yanks drew the eye–and ire–of baseball for holding incessant mound meetings in the postseason.

“We have hitters that see a lot of pitches. The Red Sox have hitters that see a lot of pitches. We haven’t played the Dodgers so I don’t really know. But that’s going to be a part of it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

“We do whatever we can. We tell the players what to do, but if you’re going to score runs and see lots of pitches and there’s pitching changes, the game’s going to be longer. But we’re doing everything we can to adhere to the rules,” he said.

There aren’t any threats about what will happen if they don’t comply. Will the prompts help? “We told those three the same thing last year,” MLB vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson said.

So that’s what the committee Bud Selig convened came up with in the way of recommendations? To bark at the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers for playing too slowly?


I’m not saying the typical Yankees game isn’t long. I’m not even saying some of the games aren’t like watching paint dry. But we’re talking about a team that takes a lot of pitches and, in certain instances, makes a lot of pitching changes. It’s called playing smart. And longer games mean more baseball for fans to watch and enjoy, not to mention more time for vendors to sell beer and hot dogs. So what’s the problem? What difference does it make how long the games last? One of the beautiful aspects of the sport is that there’s no time clock. If we, the fans, aren’t complaining…and if the players themselves don’t mind sticking around the ballpark… why should the MLB owners care? Why?


  1. jstancil@unionky.edu

    This is crazy … if you notice, the teams who play the longest games are the teams who winning regularly and consistently (NYY, BOS, LAD). I don’t care of the game takes 5 hours as long as my teams wins.

    It’s one thing if a pitcher just drags the game out with his antics and consent throwing over to first base, but I have no problem with batters taking pitches and working the count.

    If Selig really wants improve the game, put new owners in Pittsburgh and Kansas City to help improve those fledging franchises.

    Jay >

  2. Jane Heller

    Wow! You tell ’em, Jay. I don’t mind if there’s some sort of penalty for a pitcher who walks around the mound endlessly or a batter who takes forever to adjust the gloves, the helmet, etc., but no one should tell teams not to take pitches and work counts.

  3. Jane Heller

    Ah, so you think this is about the networks, Mike, and the concern that games end up pre-empting their big shows? But don’t they get higher ratings for playoff baseball than they do for some episode of an unfunny sitcom on TBS?

  4. scofid

    If the Yankees have to win in 2 hours, so be it! 😉 I guess we will find out what that Yankees-Dodgers matchup will look like this year. Can you say 4 hours? LOL! It’s amazing how everyone wants to be us! 🙂


  5. rrrt

    It’s not like we’re talking about an extra hour here. The difference between the Yankees and the average is only 16 minutes. Playoffs, though, last year were a totally different story – they were ridiculously long, and that was because of the networks and all their d*mn commercials!
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  6. bklyntrolleyblogger

    Yes Jane, with out a doubt. But time sold is time sold and they have to make good to the folks who forked over $$ to get their ad televised during a certain show holding a particular audience. A deal is a deal. If I was selling Oprah Voodoo Man-Hater Dolls, I wouldn’t want This Old House running over because a joint is off kilter and I wind up loosing my target audience i.e..Man-Hater Oprah Voodoo Doll Buyers.
    MLB soul…sign on the dotted line.
    : ) I couldn’t resist.

  7. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    They’re complaining about the length of the games, yet the networks put all those horrible special features and what they call analysis on before the game. Maybe they should threaten the networks. Fine McCarver if he goes over a certain number of words!


  8. Jane Heller

    I was surprised that the Dodgers were included in the “directive,” Scott. I always thought NL games were shorter, in general, because of the pitcher batting and no DH. On the other hand, I guess they have more pitching changes and pinch hitters in the lineup. Anyway, I sure am looking forward to Yanks-Dodgers no matter how long the games take!

    The playoff games were very long, Sue. True enough – especially for those of you on the east coast who had to stay awake. But that’s another thing they could reconsider- not putting every game in prime time so that young kids can stay up and watch.

    I don’t know what Oprah has to do with this, Mike, but you’re right – a deal is a deal and commercial time must be sold. Still, there are ways the networks could shorten the games themselves by not having so many cutaways and graphics and unnecessary “analysts” in the booth.

    I love your idea, Melissa! Give the fine to McCarver for his incessant blabbing! Perfect solution.

  9. Jane Heller

    His committee members could have used a few brain cells too, Paul. Sigh.

    Very nice article about Wang, Melissa. Thanks for the link. I’m glad he’s still a national celebrity in Taiwan. Funny about the baby being one too!

  10. jojovanb27@hotmail.com

    I hope the Yankees, along with the other “offenders,” will treat this directive with as much disdain as they show for the salary cap. “JUST SEND US THE BILL ONCE A MONTH, AND WE’LL PAY THE FINE.” I’m not suggesting they should flout the rules, just continue playing to win, and let the clocks tick as they may.

    Of course this story immediately reminded me of Michael Kay’s game wrap-ups when he was on the radio side. A game that took more than three hours was unmanageable, and anything under three hours would be described with some positive remark. On the other hand, his radio partner, John Sterling, would be up in arms during the game, anytime the umpire began play too soon and John had to let the audience know there was already a count on the batter when they were coming out of a commercial break, or worse yet there was a player standing on second base.

    “No problem John, just tell us what happened while you were gone, and we’ll forgive your sponsors for making us miss it. We know who pays the bills.”

    I agree with Mike and anyone else who says the commissioner is being cowed by the TV networks. Once upon a time, a commissioner’s job was to protect the integrity of the game. I assume that’s still the case in leagues where TV and radio money is not a factor. At least I hope it is.

  11. Jane Heller

    Michael Kay does use the word “unmanageable” for three-plus hour games, jojovanb. Haha. I’d forgotten about that, as well as John Sterling’s responses. As for the integrity of the game, maybe Selig’s committee will suggest we all watch highlights of the games, since the real things take so long – sort of the Cliff’s Notes version!

  12. diane.anziano@gmail.com

    I have to admit that the length of games has gotten out of hand. I don’t blame the best teams for taking their time and focusing on each pitch and each play, but come on! Has anyone noticed that when The Yankees and Sux play each other the games are even longer than against any other teams? Its also one of the reasons that many people enjoy hockey and football better than baseball. And it may also be one of the reasons why people who go to baseball games leave so early…they’ve just had enough. Yes, I know that many leave because they want to beat the traffic, but I’m sure the length of games has has something to do with it as well. But if MLB wants the games to move along at a quicker pace, they are not going to be able to get “instant replay” in the process of the games, because that would slow it down even more.

  13. Elizabeth D

    This is absolutely ridiculous, especially Papelbon being FINED for it. The pace of the game is one of my favorite things about baseball, so I hope that these teams proceed to ignore this recommendation and just do their own thing.

  14. Jane Heller

    I’m with Elizabeth, Diane. The pace of the game – whether it takes two hours or four – is one of the things I love about baseball. Not every game is a thriller, that’s true, but I’d never want to mandate how long the games should be. That’s treading on dangerous ground as far as I’m concerned.

    Elizabeth, Papelbon isn’t my favorite player, obviously, and I don’t know the details about his fine. I only know that unless a player is flagrantly violating the rules of the game, MLB should leave everybody alone!

  15. heartruss

    I think in many instances it depends on the pitcher. I remember when Derek Lowe was a Dodger, I made sure I wasn’t sitting in the Dugout section, because I knew the game would clock in just over 2 hours. He pitched a fast game. I knew I would not get enough buffet.

  16. Jane Heller

    LOL, Cat. I love that you based your seating on the pitcher’s pace and the buffet. I don’t blame you. The Dugout Club food rocks!

  17. Jane Heller

    It’s not illegal, Vig, but they could start fining teams that take too long to play, just as they already fine players.

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