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.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.