Sex, love, laughs, money…life itself is fleeting. So why shorten (even more) one of the greatest pleasures of this existence?
Written by Kyle Magin
Late, late into the evening on July 8, 2000, we could hear the strains of Peter Frampton’s Do You Feel Like I Do? blaring from his live set at Milwaukee’s Summerfest behind us, while a mediocre baseball game chugged along in front of us at the city’s old County Stadium.
The endless crescendos of crowd chants to “Do you, YOU!?” cascaded toward us as we watched the Tigers and Brewers—both about 15 games behind their respective Central Divisions at the time—claw out a 15-inning affair.
Our family party had thinned by that point—we attended baseball games every year with our parent’s best friends and their kids—from 10 down to five, including me, my dad, brother, our friend Nate, and his dad. Our moms had gathered the little ones and headed back for the hotel sometime during the 11th. Judging from my memory of the stadium, the announced crowd of nearly 24,000 had mostly done the same by that point, and a few thousand stragglers like us waited it out. The sweet Lake Michigan air never quite turned cool that night, just before the 2000 All Star break. I remember looking around and taking in the scene—a beautiful night in the Midwest halfway between sweltering and starting to swelter again, The Natural-era stadium lights flooding the night sky with yellow, two hopeless teams trying to advance a runner—and thinking this was about the perfect way to spend five-plus hours a summer’s eve. My dad turned to me and offered a high-five.
“Isn’t this great? Free baseball.”
A Yahoo report on Wednesday detailed baseball’s plan to kick the tires on speeding up extra-inning affairs by starting a runner at second base. The sport may view this as a mercy for non-fans, the kind of people who make up the difference between baseball’s national TV viewership numbers and those of the NFL.
For fans, though, it’s repugnant for a few reasons:
- You’re artificially introducing specialists: Baseball is already lousy with guys who enter and exit the game for just an out or an inning. Whether they’re platooned fielders who give you a better look with the glove or a different look with a bat late, or relief pitchers brought on to go after one batter, baseball rosters are already STACKED with guys who can’t really play baseball in toto. Necessitating a designated pinch-runner, if that’s how this rule is implemented and the runner isn’t just the next guy up, further pollutes rosters. The game is good at finding specialists within the rules already. Let’s not expand them to allow more one-trick ponies into the league. It’s a recipe for bad baseball when that person is pressed into regular service.
- You’re contesting the game differently than all other baseball: Like the shootout in hockey, you’re essentially playing a different game with a man already in scoring position for the 10th. Letting a man on second who has not earned it at the plate immediately changes the third baseman’s positioning and the pitcher’s delivery. The pitcher is pushed into throwing from the wind-up only immediately, which compromises the game statistically. Purists who hem and haw about PEDs’ impact on the sports’ hallowed numbers should give a long, hard thought about how you’d value a run or strikeout with these modified rules.
- Speeding up the game isn’t a great thing: God, it says terrible things about us as a society that we’re trying to figure out how to have fun faster. “Please, let this game that I’m attending in a literal park, outside during the summer time, with friends and family I love and fans who are a hoot to people-watch, end more quickly. I spent all this money for nine innings of baseball, and I don’t wish you to give me more at your expense. That would increase the value of my ticket after I’ve already paid you less for it!” I understand that I’m a hardcore hardball fan, but come on. You’re welcome to leave a game if it bores you after 9. Plenty of LA people leave after 7; it’s OK! Don’t make me suffer because some jackhole’s attention span and inability to enjoy life’s simpler pleasures causes him to turn off a TV set.