Baseball has lost its fastball

Nine pitching-changes per game doesn’t equal excitement

Sports, Sports Rotator, The Hlog by Mike Hlas,
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April 22, 2014 | 5:06 pm

We’re all creatures of habit, and habits don’t change in a day.

Rhythms and routines do often change, but usually at an undetectable clip. You go out several nights a week, then on the weekend, then almost never. It seems seamless, as if it’s always been that way.

I don’t speak for anyone else, fortunately. Besides, there are enough people out there who are too willing to do that. But can I be the only one who has phased out baseball?

It’s funny. The older you get, the slower everything should get. Right? But I don’t have time for baseball anymore. There’s too much going on, too many electronic devices at the touch of a finger, too much instant news and opinion, too many ways to watch and hear things whenever you want to watch and hear them.

My short attention span has a short attention span.

Baseball used to be my one and only sport in the late spring and summer. Maybe it still is for many of you, and good for you if it is. But in the iPhone, iPad, iThis and iThat world, the days and nights of letting ballgames slowly play themselves out while in the car, on the couch, or in the bleachers somewhere have left my calendar.

In April, May and June, the NBA and NHL playoffs suit me. The games all mean a lot. The action is virtually continuous. The atmospheres are set on hyper, not mellow.

But there’s something else: Baseball is making it too hard to care. They don’t have rhythm, and their routines are of too much stop and not enough go.

Take Easter Sunday, for instance. There were 15 Major League Baseball games. The 12 that were finished in nine innings were played in an average time of three hours and 15 minutes. None were shorter than 2:45. In April.

The Philadelphia-Colorado game took nine innings and lasted 4:08. The three extra-inning games that day all lasted at least 4:21.

It’s been said that no one ever complained that a great movie was too long. But I’m guessing few of those games resembled anything great.

There were 160 pitchers used in the 15 games. That’s 11 per game, nine pitching-changes per game. Per game!

Then you looked at the eight games in the first-round of the NBA playoffs Saturday and Sunday. The average time of the seven that didn’t go to overtime was 2:34. The sublime Portland-Houston game Sunday night went to OT and took 3:21.

Is this to say the NBA (or NHL, or NFL) is better than MLB? Of course not. To each his or her own. But if you’re asking me to invest three hours in any kind of game, if it isn’t entertaining and meaningful I’m gone unless I have to cover it for my job.

When mid-June rolls around, it will be time for the World Cup. Many out there will roll their eyes. The rest of us will be interested in tense 2-hour clashes of national teams for the world’s most-cherished team championship in sports. Plus, it will be held in soccer-mad Brazil to make for even better television.

The NFL starts not long after that, and college football will be right on its heels. It has a playoff for the first time this year, and every week already had been a playoff of sorts.

Anyway, I hear the Cubs are lousy this year. Is that something new?

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