Jonathan Papelbon doesn't think Yankees-Red Sox games are too long. He's wrong.

Leave a comment

The Red Sox and Yankees average game times are the two longest in baseball, and when the two of them get together, forget it. Major League Baseball has asked the teams to try and move things along, but Jonathan Papelbon — asked about the issue by WEEI’s Rob Bradford — doesn’t understand why anyone thinks there’s a problem:

“Have you ever gone to watch a movie and thought, ‘Man, this movie is
so good I wish it would have never ended.’ That’s like a Red
Sox-Yankees game. Why would you want it to end?”

Asked about having to potentially watch a movie in 30-degree
temperatures, the closer offered a solution, simply saying, “Bundle up
and drink beer . . . If you don’t want to be there, don’t be there. Go home. Why are you
complaining.”

I’ll accept his point about bundling up and drinking beer, because that’s good advice regardless. I’ll also grant that, in the pantheon of complaints “this baseball game is too long” is not a major one. If it is really intolerable don’t watch. There’s more to life to baseball. Or so I’m told by people I don’t truly trust.

But really, just because it’s baseball doesn’t mean that we should overlook just how annoying these needlessly interminable Red Sox-Yankees games are for people who work for a living. Sure, go four hours if it’s an ugly slugfest, but there is no excuse for an otherwise clean 3-2 game to last that damn long.

As for Papelbon’s movie analogy, yes, I’d love it if the car chases, dance numbers and fight sequences in my favorite movies lasted forever, but I wouldn’t like it if my favorite movies were extended by scenes of guys looking for their car keys, tying their dancing shoes and stretching.

Which is basically what we get with these long Red Sox-Yankees games. Mound meetings, equipment adjustments, extra bullpen throws and long stares into the catcher before each pitch, often by closers like Papelbon and Mariano Rivera who only throw one damn pitch most of the time anyway.

Get in the box. Throw the pitch. Figure out your signs before the game. We’ll still love it. In fact, we’ll probably love it even more.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
15 Comments

Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
25 Comments

ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: