Pace of play? The Diamondbacks and Rockies hold the longest 9-inning game in National League history
You don’t hear about pace of play this season as much as you did when the new rules to speed up baseball games were instituted in 2015. But don’t be mistaken; it remains one of commissioner Rob Manfred’s top initiatives. And frankly, he’s fighting a losing battle right now.
Game times are up in 2016, surpassing the dreaded three-hour mark as of mid-May. The biggest culprit? There’s just more of stuff. More pitches, more walks, more strikeouts and more balls staying out of play. Those add up, and you had the perfect storm Friday night when the Rockies hosted the Diamondbacks.
It took 4 fours and 30 minutes for the D’Backs to pull off the 10-9 comeback victory. The game time bested a 15-year National League record for longest nine-inning game by 3 minutes. The previous record-holder was a Dodgers-Giants tilt from 2001.
This one had all the ingredients for a extraordinarily long game: 19 runs; 30 hits; 13 walks; 16 strikeouts (eh, that’s not too bad); six mid-inning pitching changes (serenity now!).
As pointed out by the Rockies’ SB Nation blog, Purple Row, the teams combined for 46 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That is pretty amazing to fathom but easy to understand when you see that there were 12 doubles (tied for the most in a game this year), six stolen bases, five errors, three wild pitches, two balks and all of those damn walks. There were actually 60 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and imagine how much longer this game would have lasted if the teams had hit better than .196 in those RISP situations.
I never want to complain about game times; my life is always better at the ballpark. But it’s games like this one that make Manfred tear out what’s remaining of his hair. Moreover, there’s really nothing he can do to stop these types of games from occurring. For all of his rules and suggestions, he can’t force pitchers to throw strikes. He can’t stop fielders from booting balls. He can’t stop hitters from taking so many pitches. Like the fans, he just has to sit there and wait for the game to, at some point, end.
Here we go again … another ferocious Tiger Woods-like sex scandal in professional sports.
Alas, there were no porn stars confessing their affairs with “Cowboy Joe. (Is a ‘Ride ’em, cowboy’ joke too obvious here?) Instead, the controversy came from a statement that the 34-year veteran of the blue made Thursday, in which he called the pace of play between the Yankees and Red Sox “embarrassing” and “a disgrace to baseball.”
West went on to say, “They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace. They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?”
Both teams apologize for any inconvenience they have caused Mr. West. Oh, that’s right — they don’t.
It’s pretty alarming when a crew chief umpire, who stood directly behind home plate for Sunday’s nearly four-hour meeting with the Yanks and Sawx, is complaining about the length of games. You have to wonder if such a “slow” contest causes West to lose his focus. And hey, if he wants to speed the game up, he has the power to do so. As the home plate umpire, widen the blurry edges of that strike zone!
Begin maxing out your ability to make grossly incorrect calls!