On this edition of the Squeaky Wheel, the GMC Special Feature that allows me to grumble about whatever is currently bugging me, we’re going to tackle the question of why they keep trying to speed up the game of baseball. You can’t help but see it discussed everywhere these days, and you might think it’s a good idea whether you’re a fan or not but I beg to differ. In fact, I think a real baseball fan should be happy with it just the way it is. So if you consider yourself a fan but think you want the speed cranked up a notch or two, then I’m going to do my best to convince you otherwise.
I’m a traditionalist about most things (what geezer isn’t?) and that includes baseball, but I’m okay with most of the ways the sport has changed through the years. . .so far. I understand that games are longer now, and I do get tired of every batter stopping to redo the Velcro on his batting gloves before every. . .single. . .pitch. But this constant clamoring to speed up the pace of the game just rubs me the wrong way, because everyone is overlooking the obvious: you need to stop comparing it to other sports. I like football and I like basketball, but everyone needs to realize that baseball is fundamentally different.
Baseball’s pace is unique. It’s not frenetic and filled with constant action, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Serious fans understand that a game of baseball moves along with deceptive languor because it’s deeply layered, so it takes time to absorb everything that’s happening. Its deliberate pace allows time for you to follow the strategic planning and endless tactical moves — and countermoves — that take place before, during, and after every pitch. And then your patience is rewarded by recurring bursts of activity that present a diorama that’s almost balletic, with a ball struck well or a defensive play made with skill and athleticism. And don’t forget the moments of wild and crazy celebration exploding at the best of them.
And one more thing. It’s a sport that’s made to order for multitaskers because you can choose your level of involvement. If you want to have the game on TV while reading, working on the computer, eating dinner, or any of a number of other activities, you can temporarily forego the small moments of the sport and just look up when the crowd noise and excited announcers give you the clue that an exciting play is happening.
So please stop trying to speed it up. And also stop making snarky comments about it being slow, because all you’re doing is exposing your lack of true understanding of America’s game. After all, it’s approaching two-hundred years old and we all must respect our elders.
Below, some of the things I like about it, and below that a little music.