How much "action" is there during a baseball game

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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
happening.

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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.