D-Backs starter Brandon McCarthy is no fan of lengthy extra-inning games

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Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the best baseball-related follow on Twitter. Most athletes post religious and/or motivational quotes and typical post-game cliches with a minimum of real interaction with fans, but McCarthy makes it a point to acknowledge at least a good portion of those sending him tweets. He mixes in original and thoughtful tweets about the game he plays along with a nice serving of humor.

Yesterday, McCarthy shared his opinion on extra-inning games in baseball. He doesn’t like them, and thinks games should go no more than 11 innings.

It’s certainly interesting food for thought, even if there’s very little chance anything gets changed. And he’s right about the quality of the game being worse in extra innings: pitchers this year have allowed a .735 OPS in extras, higher than any single regulation inning. The aggregate strikeout-to-walk ratio is a meager 1.8, lower by far than the lowest regulation inning (1st inning, 2.3) and pitchers allow hits on balls in play at a .315 clip compared to the overall .295 league average. That is because, the longer the game goes, the worse the pitching gets as managers reach deeper and deeper into the bullpen, sometimes having to rely on position players pitching. Similarly, the quality of defense falls as managers use one-dimensional pinch-hitters who must then play the field.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.