Times change. With the advent of immediacy, instant comment, reaction and action, all of us notice how our lives have quickened to the extent where patience is less of a trait than it used to be.
It’s the sign of the times.
Social media, 24-hour news and sports programs on the airwaves have altered what we knew decades ago. For today’s youth, they don’t know anything else. That’s okay. It’s a sign of the times.
It’s evident in our world of sports too. On the recreational side. I have heard there are new golf courses being built for only 12 holes. No kidding. It’s about golfers who are not keen on spending four-plus hours to play 18 holes looking for something less. Nine-hole games are arranged every day at clubs for couples or any members to have their golf experience and move on.
It has really been out front in the pace and length of games we attend or watch on television. Every major sport is involved. For basketball, the culprit is more toward the end of games — more in the college game than the NBA. It seems it takes forever for a tightly contested game to finish. There’s the constant fouling to stop the clock. Timeout calls by the coaches. In college basketball, a team can call a timeout after it scores a basket. In the NBA, there is the element of reviews at the scorer’s table for the officials to check a play. I know, the idea is to get it right. But we’re talking about pace of play here.
College football games, exciting as many of them are, go on far too long. The NFL is constantly looking at ways to shorten the time it takes to play a game. The obvious way is to cut commercial time, thus shortening the breaks. Bob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, has touched on that idea as well as already declaring that on intentional walks, there will no longer be the four pitches taken outside the strike zone. Just take your base.
I do think in the NFL there has to be a way to eliminate the commercial break following a score, quickly followed by another one after the ensuing kick return or touchback. That’s excess.
How much will shortening the commercial time really work when you consider networks pay millions and even billions of dollars for the TV rights. That’s how they make it worthwhile.
But having grown up in a different time, I can see how baseball can move quicker. Baseball, a deliberate sport to begin with, is at the center of the call for a more rapid pace.
Believe it or not, there was a time when games were completed in two hours or, on rare occasions, even less. But it was rare that a nine-inning game went beyond two-and-a-half hours.
Today, games drag on. Three hours would even be welcome, but they too often go much longer than that.
How about this? Let’s really limit batters stepping out of the batter’s box after every pitch to gather themselves and make adjustments to their wrist bands. Let’s really limit pitchers stepping off the mound after every pitch to do whatever. Let’s play ball! I’m in the box, you’re on the mound. You get the ball, get the sign and throw. I stay in the box, wait for the next pitch and hit or take. I know there are exceptions and they have to be worked out. But that’s the best way, in my opinion, to make the game move. Even in a slower time, the quicker pace of play in baseball worked.
Forget about time clocks. Intentional walks don’t happen all that much. I bet if you really examine the game, all of the problems of time can be solved. How about viewing an old videotape or film of a game from the Sixties? Let’s see what happened then. In keeping with the effort to speed up games, I’m going to speed up my column by ending it right here!