Remember last year when author Paul Auster proposed some radical pace-of-play rules? Specifically, that a foul ball with two strikes was a strikeout and that three balls was a walk? Well, it went from (in my opinion bad) idea to reality over the weekend. At least for one game, as the Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League tested the rules out in an exhibition game.
Andy Martino of the Daily News and Auster himself went to the game and kept score. You can read Martino’s story about it here. Short version: it definitely cut time off the game, but I’d say that it cut more action from the game than time. Lots of walks and strikeouts, of course, and batters being more aggressive due to their fear of getting two-strike counts. Personally I feel like we have enough strikeouts and walks in the game right now, but if speed is your primary concern, mazel tov. Martino and Auster liked it, it seems, as did the manager of the Ducks who made it home for dinner.
In other fast-play rules, Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch has a story about last night’s super fast game between the Reds and Cardinals. Lots of quotes from the home plate umpire about how great it was that the game went quickly. I also assume that the writers on deadline loved it.
Which is a part of the pace-of-play stuff that I think about more and more: the media’s obvious self-interest in it. I mean, no, it’s not a singular interest. I’m sure at some point most fans have been less-than-pleased with a game that drags. I certainly have. I like a game that zips along a bit. But I do wonder if this is one of those stories in sports that affects the media way more than anyone else and thus gets more coverage than it might otherwise given its importance or lack thereof in the minds of fans. Another thing like, say, Marshawn Lynch not talking to reporters.
Oh well. Worth watching. And remembering that it’s always a good idea to be at least somewhat skeptical of anything that home plate umpires and reporters think is super important.