The other night, with nothing on TV except a show about Kim Kardashian shopping for shoes and a documentary showing a lion eating a wart hog, I decided to watch a major league baseball game.
It was in the top of the fifth, one out, when I turned it on. It was in the top of the fifth, two outs, 10 minutes later when I changed channels and went back to Kim and the wart hog.
At least they were doing SOMETHING, as opposed to what was happening -- or not happening -- at the baseball game: The pitcher looked for the signal from the catcher.
He got it, but shook it off.
He looked for another signal.
Again, he shook it off.
Finally he wound up and threw the darn ball.
Inside for ball one.
The batter held up his hand for time, stepped out of the batter’s box and knocked the dirt off his cleats.
He looked down the baseline for a signal from the coach, adjusted his helmet, took a couple of practice swings, pondered the mysteries of the cosmos and stepped back into the box.
The pitcher and catcher went through their shake-off routine once again.
Before he could throw the pitch, the catcher called time and jogged out to the mound.
Somebody woke up the manager in the dugout, and he jogged out too.
They stood around awhile, spitting and kicking the dirt, chatting about Lady Gaga, Global Warming and the price of Tupperware in China.
Finally the catcher jogged back behind home plate, the manager returned to the dugout to resume his nap, and the pitcher pounded the ball in his glove.
He wound up, kicked his leg high in the air like a spiked Rockette and threw a pitch two feet outside.
The pitcher fiddled around and made some adjustments with his undergarments that folks generally don’t make in public, especially not on national television. He completed a triple play: adjusting, spitting and scratching.
That’s when I reached for the remote.
Watching baseball is like laboring through a 1,500-page Michener novel: “Gradually the earth’s crust began to cool ...”
The powers-that-be in MLB (Molasses League Baseball) realize that they have to do something to speed up the game if they’re doing to keep their modern audience.
Folks today demand high-speed internet, jiffy lubes and fast food. They aren’t going to sit around waiting for somebody to eventually throw a ball on the off-chance that someone at the other end might perhaps hit it.
Rick Riley of ESPN.com reports on efforts to speed up the game using something called “pace-of-play procedures.”
Riley said baseball already has a pace: “Snails escaping from a freezer.”
Baseball, once known as “America’s Pastime,” is perhaps past its time. It’s a Grantland Rice game trapped in a Kim Kardsahian world.
Maybe some Dallas Cowboys-type cheerleaders cavorting in the outfield would help. At least they’d be something to watch while the pitcher is gathering cobwebs and termites are eating the bat.
Surveys indicate that fans are not only getting fidgety with the molasses pace, they are fed up with self-centered jillionaire jocks and their chemically-enhanced batting averages.
The Grand Old Game is dying a slow death. With the accent on “slow.”
Right now I’m mapping my summer vacation plans, and I can’t decide between catching a baseball game or traveling to the North Pole to watch an iceberg melt. I’m leading toward the latter because the action is more fast-paced.
Also, the iceberg doesn’t spit and scratch.