Local View: Save baseball -- speed up the game!

The end-of-the-regular-season tiebreaker baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies was painful enough for fans of the Cubs, who lost. Worse for all fans though, was that the game took so long. The 13-inning, four-hours-and-55-mi...

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Denfeld’s 1947 boys basketball team is the only Denfeld basketball team to win a state title. The team’s head coach was Lloyd Holm. Team members were Rudy Monson, Larry Tessier, Paul Nace, Kenneth Sunnarborg, Eugene Norlander, Howard Tucker, Tony Skull, Jerry Walczak, Bruce Budge, Keith Stolen and student manager Bob Scott.

The end-of-the-regular-season tiebreaker baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies was painful enough for fans of the Cubs, who lost. Worse for all fans though, was that the game took so long. The 13-inning, four-hours-and-55-minutes contest was the slowest kind of postseason death for a losing team - and one that has been sadistically aided and abetted by Major League Baseball.

If I sound like a disgruntled Cubs fan lashing out at the powers that be, well, I am. An investment of five hours of TV watching with nothing to show for it except heartache and hangover tends to disgruntle the best of us.

Therefore, possessed of the same kind of zeal with which a convict advocates for prison reform, I wish to advocate for shorter games: by capping the number of pitchers a manager may use.

Viewers had to suffer through dozens of repetitive commercials during multiple pitching changes during that Cubs-Rockies game. The Cubs used nine pitchers and the Rockies six. The managers thought nothing of strolling to the mound, sending one hurler packing, and then waiting for another to make his way from the bullpen, who then had to warm up with a bunch of practice throws. And sometimes a manager yanks a new pitcher after one batter - or even after one pitch - and starts the time-wasting rigmarole all over again!

Talk about clogging up the flow!


Shouldn't the MLB enact a rule allowing a team to use just three or four pitchers per game? Can you imagine if, in hockey, for example, Minnesota star Eric Staal started skating down center ice and suddenly the opposing coach waltzed out onto the rink and called time out, stopping all the action, to bring in somebody else to defend Staal as he crossed the blue line? Meanwhile, Stall leans against the boards, spitting sunflower seeds, while the network goes - where else? - to another commercial.

Hey, I love our American pastime as much as the next guy. I grew up thinking and dreaming baseball. I'll never forget how Sister Francis De Sales of St. Bernadette's Elementary wheeled a 19-inch, black-and-white TV into our classroom on Oct. 1, 1959, so my fourth-grade classmates and I could watch White Sox slugger Ted Kluszewski hit two home runs to beat the Dodgers 11-0 in the first game of the World Series. (The Dodgers eventually won 6 games to 2.)

My own personal highlight in baseball was a no-hitter I tossed in junior league, a game we unfortunately lost, however, since I walked in five runs.

David McGrath

In 1960, my brothers James, Pat, Kenneth, Charlie, Kevin, and I collected enough bubble gum packs of baseball cards that, by August, we owned the card for every player in the major leagues - except for Ted Williams, who, we assumed, was just being Ted in not allowing Topps to take his photograph. (Had my poor mother not tossed out the three cigar boxes full of cards after our basement flooded, I'd probably be typing this aboard my yacht anchored off the coast of Rio. But I digress.)

When we were growing up, it was unheard of to visit the beach, the lake, the country, or Grandpa's house without taking along two mitts, a ball, and a bat, all thrown in the trunk.

And we could watch an MLB game in two or two and a half hours. Only 2.45 pitchers were used per contest then, compared to 2018 when an average of 4.36 pitchers force most games to exceed three hours.

Absent some kind of reform, it's inevitable that the Sept. 15, 2016, all-time record of 24 pitchers working a 5-4 marathon game won by the Dodgers over the Rockies soon will be broken, quite likely in the playoffs or World Series this year - perhaps even before this commentary can be published.


Sure, I have heard the arguments against making changes. Tradition and all that. But the MLB is losing fans and its future financial base by holding on to the past. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 37 percent of fans identified football as their favorite sport, followed by basketball, and then baseball with only 9 percent, and soccer. And soccer is expected to overtake baseball by next year.

Even with the NFL's recent controversies involving concussions and the national anthem, it's exponentially more popular than baseball. A lot of that, again, has to do with the hours invested versus reward received, which for a loyal football fan amounts to 50 hours per 16-game season compared to a whopping 500 hours over 162 baseball games.

I cannot, of course, speak for everyone else, but unless MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred takes action to abbreviate rather than prolong my agony, next October my TV will be unplugged and a "Gone Fishin'" sign will be hung on my door.


David McGrath is a former Hayward resident, emeritus English professor, the author of "The Territory," and a frequent contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page. He can be reached at .

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