Seven Straight Wins, Baseball: Too Long?

For the seventh straight day, the TinCaps clubhouse was all smiles after a game. Fort Wayne found a way to score a come-from-behind win Sunday afternoon in front of 7,313 fans at Parkview Field, defeating the Dayton Dragons, 5-3, to improve to a perfect 5-0 this season against the Dragons.

Photo by Swikar Patel of The Journal Gazette

Photo by Swikar Patel of The Journal Gazette

This time it wasn’t so much what the TinCaps did right as what the Dragons did wrong. Trailing, 3-2, in the bottom of the eighth, the TinCaps were struggling to put runs on the board, having only scored a single run in both the first and fifth innings. The play of the game came on a ball hit by the TinCaps’ Diego Goris to Dragons shortstop Zach Vincej. Two runs scored on the play, and the TinCaps never looked back, scoring three times total in the inning, and hanging on for the 5-3 final.

That’s now 13 come-from-behind wins for the TinCaps. Their manager admits that sometimes, you’ve gotta have Lady Luck on your side:

“At this point, any wins you gotta take,” manager Jose Valentin told The Journal Gazette. “We got a lot of chances today to win a little bit easier again. Between our fourth and fifth hitter, you know, they left a lot of guys on base.

“We got lucky.”

Here’s my post-game interview with Diego Goris, which I did in Spanish, and then translated back into English. I know my Spanish teachers wouldn’t be happy with some of my tenses and conjugations, but it was a fun thing to try.

Let me know what you thought.

Tonight’s a 7:05 first pitch at Parkview Field, and we’ll have coverage on XFINITY 81, The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

LENGTH OF GAMES

Interesting piece here in The Boston Globe on the length of baseball games these days.

Five years ago, Major League Baseball sought to address its pace-of-game problem, issuing a directive to players, coaches, and umpires to — so to speak — make it snappy. From 2008 to 2011, games averaged around 2 hours and 51 minutes. After a bump to 2:55:58 in 2012, game times this year through Thursday are averaging 2:57:53 — a mark that would tie the 2000 season for the all-time high.

In 1963, when Vin Scully was in his 13th year as Dodgers broadcaster, games averaged 2 hours and 25 minutes. What could have added a solid half-hour since then?

Part of the answer, the story says, getting quotes from Scully, players and baseball executives, is the velcro re-adjustments on players’ batting gloves. Or their walk-up music. Or the constant adjustments of their helmets. Or stepping out of the batter’s box between pitches.

The article also speaks about the experience of Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks during his time in the minors:

Rewind to 2007, to Middlebrooks’s first professional at-bat in the fall instructional league, a moment he had waited for all his life.

Strike one swinging. Ball. Strike called.

Middlebrooks stepped out of the box. Strike three.

He was called out on a rules violation that the then-19-year-old didn’t even know existed. That season, baseball instituted a ban in the minor leagues on leaving the batter’s box if the player hadn’t swung at the preceding pitch.

It resulted in bizarre moments, such as one with Red Sox minor leaguer Josh Papelbon on the mound in a Single A game. As Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen recalled, Papelbon had two outs and two strikes on the batter. The tying run was on third. The batter stepped out.

Game over.

“It was crazy,” Hazen said. “It didn’t go over very well and they stopped doing it shortly thereafter because it was causing more problems than what they had hoped to get out of it. All that stuff kind of died.”

Except, technically, it didn’t. The rules haven’t changed. While umpires might have pulled back on enforcement, minor league batters should still receive a strike if they step out of the box without one of eight proscribed situations occurring. Taking a strike isn’t one of them.

While such a rule won’t be instituted in the majors, who knows how many batters the enforcement in 2007 affected? Who knows how much slower Middlebrooks would have been without that experience?

“It’s always about teaching them in the minor leagues,” said Maddon. “And that’s the key. If you want to really change behavior, you’ve got to change it before they get here.”

An interesting thought for certain, one which I plan to ask TinCaps players about in the coming days. Now, on the contrary, Sean Newell of Deadspin, argues the other side–that baseball games are exactly as long as they ought to be. 

Baseball is a game, a diversion. As serious and all-important as it sometimes seems, at the end of the day its main function is entertainment. To say yesterday’s game between the Mets and Marlins was bad because it was long is to say The Postman was a bad movie because it was long. The Postman was a bad movie because it was bad, it just so happened to also be long. It was 25 minutes longer than The Dark Knight but exponentially worse.

There is no “pace-of-game problem” in baseball. The relative badness of a baseball game can of course being compounded by its length, but again, baseball is a game. It is inherently fun to watch to those of us that like baseball, otherwise why are we spending so much time watching? A team plays 162 of these games in a full season, but there is no rule that requires you to watch all of them. If a game is too long or dull you can turn it off or leave the stadium, or go kill some time waiting in line for a beer. I promise, there will be another game tomorrow.

That’s the beauty of baseball: for six months out of the year, it is always there. If you’re in a hurry to watch a game, you’re doing it wrong.

What do you think?

MUSICAL GUEST

Matchbox Twenty…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

1 Comment

I think that if you eliminate the tv commercials in major league games you will find the actual game time is very close to “before tv” times.

Doug Gruber

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