Last January the Wall Street Journal studied some football games and determined that, once you eliminate all of the standing around between plays and everything, there was only about 11 minutes of actual action in a game. Now they have done the same thing for baseball. Their verdict: 14 minutes.
While interesting, this study is a bit misleading. Why? Check out the methodology:
The stopwatch would start when a pitcher lifted his leg to begin his
pitching motion. The timing would stop when the ball hit the catcher’s
mitt or, if it was put in play, when the presiding umpire made a call or
the players all stopped moving (pickoff attempts and steals were also
counted as action).
I don’t know about you, but I consider the time after the batter is actually in the
box and the pitcher is getting the signs, checking runners and the like to be “action.” Why? Because unlike the periods between plays in football, the ball
is technically live at that point and there is something valuable and observable
Sure, maybe the players aren’t running or doing backflips or anything during that time, but if those things are all that count, you’re working with a pretty narrow definition of “action.” When the batter is stepping in and the pitcher is coming set we can learn all sorts of things. If the battery is on the same page. If the pitcher is getting tired. If you’re at the ballpark — or, if the director of the broadcast is on his game — you can simultaneously judge all of this interplay plus baserunner behavior and defensive positioning. Hell, there’s all sorts of action going on before the pitch.
The WSJ acknowledges this, quoting Bob Costas and George Will, each of whom note that the definition of “action” in baseball can be subjective. I’m guessing some people would consider this one of the problems with baseball. I consider it one of its better attributes.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.