I didn’t know the date off the top of my head, but I bet a bunch of Cubs fans did. October 14, 2003 — ten years ago today — was Steve Bartman day.
In case you’re six years-old or generally oblivious, the Bartman game became known as such when Mr. Bartman reached for a foul ball that Moises Alou had leapt for and probably would have caught:
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At the time the Cubs were up 3-0 in Game 6 of the NLCS and had five outs to go. After the play? The Marlins scored eight runs and won the series the next night.
Not that it was truly all Bartman’s fault. Indeed, way more blame should be (and, now that it is all in the rear-view mirror, usually is) placed on the Cubs for woofing the inning, the game and ultimately the series away. After all, Bartman didnt make Mark Prior walk Luis Castillo after his foul ball. Or throw a wild pitch. Bartman didn’t cause Alex Gonzalez to muff the double play that would have ended the inning. Blame belongs to a lot of people, mostly those who were wearing Cubs pinstipes.
But Bartman remains infamous.
There was a story about the play in the New York Times yesterday. The most notable thing: Bartman has basically disappeared from public view. He doesn’t give interviews or show up at conventions and does not appear to have done anything to capitalize on his notoriety. Which is pretty darn admirable.
NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.
The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.
Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.
Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.
MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.
Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.
There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.
Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.
Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.
Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.