Bob Watson Can't Get Monsterous Length Under Control

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I feel your pain, brother. Blessing and a curse, blessing and a curse.

Bob Watson, the man charged with the futile job of trying to shorten the average length of ballgames, has taken the tried and true "complaining to the media because I have been charged with a futile job" route of conducting his futile job. The headline of today's article in Business Week should be: Bob Watson To Yankees And Red Sox: Jeeeez Guys, Come Onnnnn

"We've created a monster," Watson said in a telephone interview. "Will we ever get this under control? I don't know."

Slow games have exasperated the game's hierarchy since at least 2000, when Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson was hired to stop excessive fidgeting and fussing, among other things. He left in 2002 to manage the Montreal Expos, and Watson, a former Yankees general manager, took over.

One key is time between pitches, Watson said. The official rule -- 8.04 for those keeping score at home -- says pitchers have 12 seconds when there are no runners on base, according to MLB spokesman Pat Courtney. Last year's average was 27 seconds, according to Stats LLC.

"My dream for 2010 is to have a pace of 25 seconds per pitch," Watson said.

So Bwats (that's what I call him) a man whose job is to enforce the rules of the game, and I'm sure handsomely compensated for it, has a DREAM of getting pitchers to throw at a pace that is more than double the stated rule. That's uh, nice work if you can get it.

Now I'm not suggesting that the umps call a ball on every single pitcher that takes more than the allotted 12 seconds (the article claims this was done "15 to 20 times last season" as if we have no way of tracking these things), that seems a drastic measure leading to total chaos and 2 dead umpires a month. But Watson has been in charge of this for 8 years now and the average time of a ballgame has dropped by a meager 6 minutes in that span.

Time for some revolutionary thinking if you're serious about getting this done then, eh Bwats?

Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a 14-member Special Commission, which met for the first time in January to discuss the issue, along with other baseball matters. Possible steps include stricter enforcement of rules, curbing excessive pitcher's mound conferences and not allowing batters to step out of the box during an at-bat, Watson said.

Seriously? Is this an Onion article? Are they pulling my leg cause it's April Fool's Day? That's what The Commission™ has come up with? YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO THOSE THINGS FOR 8 YEARS.

When it comes right down to it, Watson's job title should be Chief Complainer. He's specifically down on closers and their darned rock n' roll, citing Trevor Hoffman, and more hilariously Jonathan Papelbon, for taking too long to get to the mound and pitch.

"Do you have any idea what Papelbon's time is?" Watson said. "It's 4:30 or 4:40. So that's why he's fined. Why would people want to watch him take forever to throw his pitches? It doesn't make any sense."

You may agree with him on this point, even if you don't share his anachronistic incredulousness. But here's the difference between you and him: IT'S HIS JOB TO FIX IT. There's a rule there. It says pitchers have 2 minutes and 25 seconds. They've fined Papelbon the pocket changeish sum of $9,000 for his infractions. No wonder whining to Business Week has become Watson's latest form of recourse.

So, here's my magic bullet for Bwats: Give up, duder. You've proven to be less effective in this given task than perhaps anyone in the history of tasks. That's a long time. People have been doing tasks for at least 50 years. And you know, all this is assuming that MLB has even made a good faith effort to reduce game length and isn't just paying lip service to something that nebulous "fans" (and more accurately snoozy sportswriters) are upset about. But they wouldn't do that, would they?


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9 Comments

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Kris, as flummoxed as you are, consider those who work in an environment where every day includes an exasperating issue like the one above. Watson would be dandy VP material at almost any large company:

*Take on a difficult, politically "hot" issue.
*Make a grand pronoucement.
*Allocate eleventy billion people and/or dollars toward your efforts
*Do nothing to actually solve or improve the problem.
*Talk every year or so about how your going to make it better THIS TIME (while lowering measurements and tossing around scapegoats like so many relay throws).
*Profit.

/hits too close to home
/now shaking

"you're"

I can solve Mr. Watson's problem with a simple technological fix - better velcro. Clearly baseball suffers from an epidemic of ill-fitting batting gloves, hence batters' need to adjust them between ever pitch. If we can create some kind of velcro that stays properly adjusted for longer than 8 seconds - and with good old American know-how I think we can do it - we can cut the time of each at-bat by at least 60%.

Simplest solution: equip umpires with both an egg timer and taser.

Any solution that could potentially lead to Jonathan Papelbon getting tased deserves serious consideration.

One mid-inning pitching change per team per game. A pitcher's throw to first counts as a ball if the runner returns safely to that base without a play. What am I going to do with this extra half-hour every night?

Abolish the DH. There's an extra half hour.

Why not just call a ball every twelve seconds? Also, why not call a technical foul every time a basketball player even TALKS to the ref? I don't care if he's just saying "hi". Watch all the little bitches shape up. Take a week - both sports.