Looking at today’s games, the contest between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals took about 2:40, while the nightcap between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox took nearly four hours to complete (3:56). It seems the Twitterverse was awash with plenty of complaints about how baseball was taking forever. How baseball was boring because it just kept dragging on. It wasn’t just fans, but players and commentators were complaining about it too.
What I saw today (I unfortunately only was able to watch the ALCS opener as the NLCS is on some cut-rate cable channel) was great baseball. I saw a potent Red Sox lineup get utterly dominated by Detroit pitching despite six free passes. I saw Jon Lester weaseling out of some bad jams. I did follow the NLCS game and noted that Clayton Kershaw only lost because a passed ball allowed the eventual winning run to move to third base and score on a sacrifice fly. And ultimately, the possibility of the first combined no-hitter on the road in postseason history was very compelling. I get that casual fans would hate the wait, but I enjoyed every moment of baseball I witnessed today.
We got a moment of Dustin Pedroia rage too:
I don’t really mind people saying that baseball is slow, because it is. I understand why people would think it drags on, and why it’s boring. But the game is full of contexts. There is a pitcher who is worried about protecting a one-run lead. He has to worry about the guy on first base. He has to get a dangerous hitter out. There’s plenty of tension and it’s all edge-of-your-seat material, if you know where to look. That’s the kind of stuff I enjoy, and it’s too bad that the “casual” fan doesn’t enjoy it too.
It’s not just casual fans either. Die-hard fans hate the slow, dragging games as well. But again, we’re missing all the context from today. I think fans who were invested in tonight’s game would have been eager to see how it would end, as Anibal Sanchez, Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit tried to nail down a combined no-hitter. Other factions of fans may have wanted to see whether Boston could get that one hit to escape infamy, or even snag a walk-off win after prolonged offensive futility. I was waiting for either outcome, and was disappointed that neither happened, but still marveled at how well Detroit’s pitching did their job in securing victory.
Everyone is always welcome to leave the ballpark or switch to something else, or just turn it off if you really have something better to do. It’s entertainment, not a vital bodily function. Yes, batters can stop scratching their nuts in between every pitch. Pitchers can speed up their deliveries. That’s stuff we can all agree on. But baseball is awesome in that you don’t always have to pay attention. There are 20ish seconds in between plays, and a few minutes in between innings where you can read, do work, or talk to a friend. You can walk around and stretch, go buy food or a T-shirt, or if you’re at home, switch to something else before switching back. Nobody forces you to watch all four hours of a baseball game, so if you’re complaining about it taking too long, then you probably should’ve been multitasking instead of just sitting there like a vegetable taking everything in.
In a couple weeks, it’ll all be over until late February. We will only have random streams of winter ball to tide us over until spring training. Until then, baseball can take as long as it wants.