Is it time to speed up Yankee-Red Sox baseball? If you are a Yankee fan or part of Red Sox Nation, even you might like to see the pace of each 9 inning contest take it up a notch. Even if you are just a baseball fan with no particular partiality for either team you have to marvel at the duration of Yankee – Red Sox contests and wonder what is wrong here and why hasn’t someone taken steps to solve the problem
Research provided by the New York Post made it clear that there is a decided lengthening of a nine inning game when the Yankees play the Red Sox as opposed to squaring off against other teams. In fact the league average for game time is just about 3 hours. Games between the two often last up to 4 hours. So what is going on here and can it be stopped.
The Post noted the biggest culprit in slowing Sox-Yankees down if often the annoying ( to the fans at least) habit of that many batters seem to have of stepping out of the batters box after almost every pitch. But there are others. Catchers ordinarily give pitch signals to the pitcher via finger signs. But in Sox-Yanks games there is often a excessive number of trips by the catcher to the mound apparently to make a sure connection with the pitcher. These little walks take time. Pinch hitting and multiple relief pitchers also seem to rear their ugly heads with more frequency when Boston and New York meet.
In an April series not only did the slow pace of the game get to the fans it got to the umpires too. So much so that New York Post noted Umpire Joe West referred to games between the two teams as a “disgrace”. Which left some of us wondering not if there was a slow down, because that was evident, but rather why and what to do about it.
There probably can’t be universal agreement on why two teams who are capable of playing baseball against other teams at a reasonable 3 hour clip suddenly practically atrophy and drag the contest on to a solid 4 or more hours. But there are some pretty strong possibilities.
First the rivalry between the Sox and the Yanks is historic and just can’t seem to die. Even though players on both teams will try to convince you that their games are just like every other game, it just doesn’t look that way when you are watching. Nor is it reported that way on television, radio or news media. Amusingly enough this year there is a third strong contender for division champ in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays. Yet when you listen to Sox and Yanks fans talk rivalry you would hardly know there were other teams even in the league never mind currently holding down the top position.
Second there really are some legitimate super stars on both teams, folks who are going to be Hall of Famers in years to come. It’s easy enough for these players and those who surround them on both teams to get caught up in the drama of the situation and think that they really do need to take all day and night getting everything just so before attempting to hit a ball with a bat. Turns out there really is such a thing as a “Drama King” and both teams have more than their fair share.
Probably the one final reason for the continued existence of monumentally slow games between these two teams is because no one has stepped up – until the Joe West outburst – to say “Enough, already”. This order might come from individual calls made by umps at future Sox-Yankees contests. But to be fair perhaps it is well past time for Major League baseball to make the kinds of rulings that will make baseball, especially at Sox- Yanks games more exciting, more action packed, more about real baseball and less of a snooze fest for even the most faithful fans. Four hours is longer than most people’s wedding receptions. Come on now!
Source : “Why Yankees-Red Sox Games Take So Long”, New York Post, May 9,2010.