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Time out? Sorry fellas, you gotta stay in there and hit

Apr 7, 2010, 8:58 AM EDT

David Ortiz strikeout.jpgIn the recaps I called the Sox-Yankees game “boring.”  Upon reflection that was unfair. It wasn’t a boring game. While not the most crisp affair imaginable, it was close and competitive and I shouldn’t really be complaining. It was long, sometimes unnecessarily so, and that’s really what I was reacting against. “Boring” was not the right choice of words, however.

What was interesting: Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez trying, in his own way, to move things along. On one occasion Derek Jeter asked for time and the ump refused to give it to him. Same with David Ortiz. When Oritz didn’t get time called Jorge Posada and
A.J. Burnett got confused and called time themselves.  The announcers then
went on about how Major League Baseball is pushing umpires to move things along — especially in Sox-Yankees games — and that pitchers should just take advantage and just throw the ball there.

I’m sure this was discombobulating for the hitters — and since the game was still nearly four hours long it wasn’t necessarily effective in this instance — but I hope the umps keep it up and impress upon hitters that there is really no need to spit on your batting gloves like Ortiz does or back out of the box and take that big deep breath Jeter does every time or chomp on your gum and squint like A-Rod and all that nonsense.

Get in there and swing, dammit.

  1. Moses Green - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Clearly MLB has a point of emphasis on the granting of time this year, and I for one was happy to see Hernandez enforce it with an iron fist. Way back when I played baseball, you only asked for time as a hitter if something got in your eye or you couldn’t figure out the signs from 3rd. And you waited for time to be granted before backing out.
    Jeter especially is annoying the way he holds his hand up to the ump like a traffic cop telling someone to stop and then just backs out. It’s a good thing to remind all of these guys to wait until time is granted. Now someone needs to tell the catchers that they can get some free strikes off of this, stop waving for time and sit there and bank some early profits off of the hitters’ confusion.

  2. Andy L - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    I’ll agree with you on this one. Hernandez did a good job of that. Most of the reason for the length was ineffective pitching, leading to a bunch of pitching changes.

  3. TC - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    If they go this route, I’m assuming that they are also enforcing the rule about the amount of time a pitcher has to deliver the ball after the batter steps into the box. If they didn’t, I could see pitchers taking advantage of this by either freezing the batter by holding the pitch too long or simply stepping off the mound. Otherwise it stinks for the batter who needs permission but the pitcher gets carte blanche.

  4. Howie B. - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    Craig – Some things never change – [url=http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=2&res=9E07E2DE103AE733A25756C0A9609C946497D6CF]they just used to be expressed much more eloquently[/url]

  5. Howie B. - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Craig – Some things never change – they just used to be expressed much more eloquently
    EDIT – let’s try that url html tag again

  6. Dan W - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    If you watched the game, Angel didn’t give Derek time, but Derek forced the issue backed out anyway and continued to put his hand up.
    I understand that MLB wants to move the game, but it’s not fair to punish the hitters. The umpire can’t do anything with the pitcher so this is advantage pitcher.
    If the pitcher doesn’t feel comfortable, he can step off, but if this is continued to be enforced this way, then the hitter will not be able to step out if he feels uncomfortable.
    Hitting a baseball is by far the most difficult “task” is any professional sport so why give the pitcher even more of an advantage?

  7. Josh in DC - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    Thanks, Craig, for correctly noting that the players have to ASK for time to be called. Among the problems baseball has, this is the easiest to remedy. The answer should always be “no,” and eventually the batters will stop asking. I’m willing to make exceptions for getting attacked by swarms of bees or locusts, but that’s about it.
    Play ball, dammit.
    Also: no more catcher’s visits to the mound. Ever. If you can’t figure out the signs, that’s your problem.

  8. Josh - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Ooh, who is this other Josh, in DC, fellow? He sounds smart. Listen to him, people!

  9. Palooka Joe - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Angel Hernandez seems like the perfect umpire for this. My evidence may be entirely imaginary, but there are times when Hernandez looks like he wants to start fights with the players: raising his voice before he needs to, chasing players down after they leave an argument or stepping into a brim-to-brim spitfest at the first sign of disagreement.
    In most situations, it drives me crazy. But if there’s anyone who can consistently reign in something that players used to take for granted, it’s Hernandez.

  10. YankeesfanLen - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    This argument is about a day too early- watch tonight’s game with Andy (fiddley-fart) Pettitte on the mound and count how many times ha throws to first, especially with anyone on base. Tex will be too tired to hit.
    See, the Yanks-Sox are just coming into form. First game, 16 runs, 3:46. Second game, 10 runs 3:48. We’ll probably come in at 3:51 tonight with 7 runs.
    Nobody wants discount baseball. Extra innings are coming.

  11. Howie B. - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    Apparently I have no idea how to do html tags on this site. Nor can I express anything eloquently.
    Here’s the dang link. Cut and paste for a 105 year old complaint about length of games.
    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=2&res=9E07E2DE103AE733A25756C0A9609C946497D6CF

  12. repeating borgman - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    If you DVR the game and watch it in FF while only slowing down for the highlights, you can finish up the game in about an hour, AND it also takes care of Joe “I like to say the same thing six times” Morgan! (Just remember to record the next two hours behind the game!)Problem solved….

  13. Ari Collins - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    You guys make a great point about the umps having less control over the pitcher’s ability to call time. Let’s see the umps start to call pitchers on the time limit they supposedly have.

  14. sjp - Apr 7, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    The umps have plenty of power to make the pitcher speed things up….all they have to do is call a few balls for slow play and the pitchers will get the message.

  15. Doc Twolf - Apr 7, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    So, is that the penalty for going over the time limit, the ump just calls ‘ball’? Sounds great to me. Isn’t the pitch thrown when a batter steps out before time is granted also called a strike, no matter what?

  16. yankeesgameday - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    This is history in the making folks, because we are about to witness the rarest thing in all of baseball: the birth of an “unwritten” rule.
    The umps and the league may want the games to be faster, but the players want the ability to step off the mound, or out of the batter’s box, and I predict that the players will police this themselves with an unspoken agreement that when a hitter wants time, the catcher and pitcher are going to grant it to him by not throwing that ball no matter what the umpire is saying behind the plate.
    I love Craig’ take on just about everything, and yeah Yankee/Sox games take about four hours, but aren’t they four hours of pure tension filled baseball bliss when they are close games? I think it’s really a fandom issue, if you love this rivalry you don’t care how long the games are.
    http://yankeesgameday.blogspot.com/2010/04/games-arent-too-long-for-me.html

  17. Dan W - Apr 7, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    Not to get too “purist” but does anybody want to see balls called on a pitcher from taking to long, or a batter getting a called strike caused he wasn’t ready?
    If you do, then really why not put up a pitch clock right behind the umpire and only give the batter two “timeouts” in which he is allowed to get out of the box. Of course, I am sure some people think that would be a great idea.
    IMO – batters stepping out, pitchers taking their time, 5 pickoff’s to first, is all apart of the game. There are times as a hitter you just don’t feel right, as a pitcher when the grip on the ball doesn’t feel right, and to have a rule that would still force you to deliver a pitch or Ab with out the ability to refocus is a disservice to the game.
    People compare this to other sports and their time rules, etc, but what is lost there is that this is not like other sports. Its a different games with different rules and different intricacies.

  18. YANKEES1996 - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Craig, after reading the above article I believe it qualifies as a rant. You need to RELAX or you are going to be headed to the disabled list with an ulcer. In the grand scheme of things who really cares about Jeter’s deep breathing, A-Rods’ gum chewing or Big Papis’ spit, when they step out of the box you need to go to your happy place and relax so that their habits don’t wreak havoc on your health. Woosaa, Woosaa Craig!

  19. Michael - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    From the rulebook:
    Umpires will not call “Time” at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position, even though the batter claims “dust in his eyes,” “steamed glasses,” “didn’t get the sign” or for any other cause.
    Glad I could clear this up for some of you. If Jeter steps out after the pitcher comes set, sorry Derek.

  20. silverpie - Apr 7, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    14/15: The time limit (20 in pro baseball, I think 10 in high school) is only in effect with the bases empty. Exceeding it is, indeed, a ball. If the batter steps out and the pitcher pitches anyway, it’s not automatically a strike–it’s like any other pitch, ball if it misses the zone, strike if it’s in there.

  21. SJ - Apr 7, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    The Giants at Houston game started one hour later than the Yankees-Red Sox marathon – and finished well before they wrapped things up at Fenway. It doesn’t have to take all night to play baseball.

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