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Quote of the Day: Bud Selig

Apr 12, 2010, 11:15 AM EDT

“Hank Aaron told me, ‘We never got out of the batter’s box.’ And Joe
Torre told me the same thing. You watch guys now. They’re in the
batter’s box and it’s ball one. Then they get out and they’re adjusting
everything. I said to the committee, ‘What are they adjusting? They
didn’t swing.'”

Commissioner Bud Selig in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, discussing the pace of the game. He added “We live in a fast-paced society. The game ought to be played the way
it’s always been played. You watch a 2-1 game and that ought not to take
3 hours and 4 minutes.”  I can’t argue with that. I also can’t argue with the fact that it’s much better to hear this from the Commissioner of Baseball than from some loose cannon umpire.

One question, though: does Selig really need to name-check Aaron and Torre on this? Bud’s been around a while so I’m sure he knows that guys didn’t use to step out all the time. Heck, they didn’t do it even 20 years ago.  At the risk of totally irresponsible armchair psychology — my favorite kind, by the way — this quote is a window into Selig’s insecurity. He’s the freakin’ head honcho of baseball, but he doesn’t feel confident enough in his role to simply state something obvious with authority. Instead, he invokes the names of two guys who he believes have much more weight and credibility than he himself does, likely believing on some level that his opinion wouldn’t matter otherwise.

Such behavior creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bud hasn’t taken many strong stands on his own. Instead, he has let public opinion dictate the courses he takes. This is just the latest example.

  1. ditmars1929 - Apr 12, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    What a buffoon. The best thing about baseball is that it isn’t regulated by a clock. That’s the beauty of the game. Nobody who is a fan of the game has an issue with how long it takes to play it, and here we have a used car salesman who ignored steroids raising an issue that doesn’t exist. Asshole.

  2. acenturyandcounting - Apr 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    I have to disagree with you guys a little. It is one of baseball’s strengths that there is no clock. However, the length of the game does matter to some of us with kids who would like them to love the game as we do. Additionally, guys have been slow in the box for quite some time – certainly more than 20 years. What was Hargrove’s nickname?

  3. BC - Apr 12, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    This was occurring 20 years ago or more. Remember Mike Hargrove, “The Human Rain Delay”? Its just that now, seemingly EVERYONE does it. And there are ten times as many trips to the
    mound than there were.
    Here’s a couple suggestions:
    1. No trips to the mound by the cather during an at bat.
    2. Pitcher has 20 seconds to get back in the set position after receiving the ball back from the catcher.
    3. 4 warmup pitches before an inning instead of 8.
    4. Intentional walk doesn’t require pitches to be thrown, just wave the guy over.
    5. Umpires call the high strike, it’s getting ridiculous.

  4. james - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Bud Selig for President.
    hahah, my “Captcha” words are hubris and power, nice symbolism for this article.

  5. Spice - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    I’m sorry but there is a little revisionist history going on here.
    Mike Hargrove was referred to as the human rain delay. Thurman Munson stepped out after every single pitch and adjusted (in order) His helmet, his belt, his glove, his neck, his helmet, his shirt, his helmet.
    Many other batters did many of the same or similar things and had their own rituals.
    20 years ago: Chuck Knobluach (came up 19 years ago) had 11 steps he went through after every pitch. 15 years ago Nomar unstrapped and re-strapped his gloves between every pitch.
    Batters always stepped out after each pitch, some did it very often, some not at all.
    More than the stepping out, it is the stepping out several times between pitches, and that is often a factor of the pitchers taking forever between pitches.
    I will accept that the percentage of players that step out every pitch is greater than it once was.
    A pitcher that throws strikes, gets on the mounds and throws the ball in less time than the trip from NY to Boston has more effect on the time it takes to play the game than the batter.
    You really want to speed up the game? Call the strike zone as written.

  6. Charles Gates - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    He’s the freakin’ head honcho of baseball
    Well, yes, but he’s the head honcho at behest of the owners, who stand to lose some hefty revenue, revenue that comes at fantastic margins, in the name of stadium beer (and other concession) sales if the length of a game were to be diminished.
    The only reason to make drastic changes in an attempt to shorten games would be if the projected fan attendance run rates over the long term outweigh the short term loss in game attendance generated revenue. So, sure the fans don’t like 4 hour games. But until they stop buying tickets en masse, the sound the owners hear for the ‘unnescessary’ parts of the game won’t be jeers, but rather the cha-ching of the registers.

  7. Megary - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    I would agree with you that part of the beauty of baseball is that there is no clock. However, that’s not the point being made here.
    At what point do fans and umpires say enough is enough? How many adjustments and readjustments should be allowed for no apparent reason? Should we allow snacks between pitches?
    The game should move consistently forward and at a certain point, if multiple unnecessary delays start pushing the pace of the game sideways, then something needs to be done. Yes, we all have different levels of patience for this kind of stuff, but mine, like many others, is starting to wear a little thin.

  8. scatterbrian - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    ditmars and century, just because Selig said it and needed confirmation doesn’t make it untrue. I agree that one of the many great things about baseball is the absence of a clock, but that’s not an invitation for players to take their sweet-ass time doing whatever. The example is perfectly valid: a batter watches ball 1, steps out and readjusts his batting gloves. Those things are strapped with Velcro, and once they’re on they pretty much stay strapped. There’s no need to re-Velcro them.
    .
    To further century’s point about kids, they’re the ones growing up in this “fast-paced society” and can’t or don’t recollect leisurely-paced baseball. If baseball wants to keep them as fans, they need to speed up the game. Otherwise, young sports fans will continue to flock to the faster-paced NBA and short-attention-span-packaged NFL.

  9. Ron - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    The number of warm up pitches doesn’t matter. There is a mandatory 90-second break between half-innings, and that’s more than enough time to get 8 throws in. Most pitchers only take them all because they have the time, and it keeps them from standing around.

  10. GimmeSomeSteel - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    The umpires (Joe West included, if you call him an umpire) can stop this stuff. Batter says, “Time”, ump says, “no”, pitcher throws a strike while the batter is giving the ump a for-the-cameras stare, “strike three”. Catcher says, “time”, gets out of his crouch, ump says, “ball four coming up”. After the ensuing nuclear war, throw pitches, catchers, batters, managers out of the game.
    It will only happen a few times before everyone gets the message.
    I love the pace of a baseball game, but these constant adjustments drive me crazy. Or crazier. Had I been an umpire, I’d have told Nomar, “Get some gloves that FIT, dude”. Gloves, wrist bands, batting helmets, jockstraps, jerseys; I swear some of these guys are adjusting their stock portfolios between pitches.

  11. ditmars1929 - Apr 12, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Megary, I’ll agree that there are some things going on to delay the game that should not be necessary. A batter steps into the box, takes a ball, and steps out to “adjust” himself. What the hell for? You just took a ball, there’s nothing to adjust. Most annoying. Reference Chuck Knobloch if you’re a Yankee fan.
    But in general, what’s wrong with a three or four hour game? I don’t like “creeping LaRussaism”, but if you love baseball, the more the better. I’ve never heard of a movie fan going to a great movie and then complaining that it lasted four hours. I’ve never heard of a music lover going to a concert and complaining, “they played forever!”

  12. BC - Apr 12, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    I suppose you’re right. And the time between innings won’t change anyway – less commercials = less $$$.

  13. sjp - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    Ditmars, watching catchers walk to the mound and batters adjust stuff is not “more baseball”, it is a waste of everyone’s time.
    If a band takes 3 hours to play one hour of music or if a 90 minute story is stretched to span 3 hours, you can bet your ass that concert and movie goers bitch.

  14. Peteinfla - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    “Such behavior creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bud hasn’t taken many strong stands on his own. Instead, he has let public opinion dictate the courses he takes.”
    Craig, I think first Selig would have to develop the capacity to form his own opinion before voicing it.

  15. Big Harold - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    1. No trips to the mound by the cather during an at bat.
    2. Pitcher has 20 seconds to get back in the set position after receiving the ball back from the catcher.
    3. 4 warmup pitches before an inning instead of 8.
    4. Intentional walk doesn’t require pitches to be thrown, just wave the guy over.
    5. Umpires call the high strike, it’s getting ridiculous.
    I’m with you in number one and five but number two, .. 10-12 seconds would be better.
    Number three, is irrelevant because there is always a commercial break between innings so the delay is not the number of warm up pitches. If anything, stop going to commercial breaks when relief pitchers are brought in, (I know full well the networks won’t agree to it and owners are not keen to cut their own throats financially). At least consider to refrain from going to break when the second or third relief pitcher is brought in. Nothing stupider than going to break for the first relief pitcher who then faces one guy, on two or three pitches then another break for another pitcher. Number four; can’t agree, even the mundane needs to be executed.
    From my perspective, is there are already enough rules that aren’t enforced. I would think starting with enforcing the ones already agreed to is the way to start. The truly ironic thing that seems to get little attention in this is that the remarks by Joe West that got this ball rolling was from one of the umpires that called the very game he labeled pathetic and an embarrassment. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t that mean he’s in charge? Well I gues it’s not true that yo get what you pay for because my understanding is that MLB umpires is a pretty good gig.

  16. scatterbrian - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    “I’ve never heard of a movie fan going to a great movie and then complaining that it lasted four hours. I’ve never heard of a music lover going to a concert and complaining, “they played forever!””
    This is apples and oranges. At the movie or the concert, the added time more movie or music, in baseball it is added downtime. Adjustments, conversations, etc. is not more baseball action. A more analogous example would be if the movie had a 30-second intermission between every scene, or if they had a soundcheck after every song.
    And actually regarding your movie point, the third Lord of the Rings movie falls into that category. Great movie, won Best Picture, but could have been shortened.

  17. Doug - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    It’s a fact that “quick 2-1 games used to last 2 hours,
    average games 2.5, and “long” games 3 hours.
    Then it went to 2.5, 3, and 3.5 hours respectively.
    Now games are routinely stretching another half hour.
    Any game now that comes in under 3 hours is considered
    a “fast” game. I hate to say that I agree with Bud on this one, enough is enough, keep things moving.
    I am involved in Little League, and we now have to push
    the umpires to keep things moving – – because the kids
    emulate the pros and step out after every pitch and take
    a practice swing before getting back in the box.
    In tournaments LL umpires now tell the kids to stay in
    there and bat and quit stepping out of the box after every pitch.
    I played high school and college baseball and we only
    leaned back to check the 3rd base coach’s signal when a runner
    was on base, otherwise we stayed in the box between pitches.
    Faster games keep the fielders and the fans more into the action.

  18. Doug - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    It’s a fact that “quick 2-1 games used to last 2 hours,
    average games 2.5, and “long” games 3 hours.
    Then it went to 2.5, 3, and 3.5 hours respectively.
    Now games are routinely stretching another half hour.
    Any game now that comes in under 3 hours is considered
    a “fast” game. I hate to say that I agree with Bud on this one, enough is enough, keep things moving.
    I am involved in Little League, and we now have to push
    the umpires to keep things moving – – because the kids
    emulate the pros and step out after every pitch and take
    a practice swing before getting back in the box.
    In tournaments LL umpires now tell the kids to stay in
    there and bat and quit stepping out of the box after every pitch.
    I played high school and college baseball and we only
    leaned back to check the 3rd base coach’s signal when a runner
    was on base, otherwise we stayed in the box between pitches.
    Faster games keep the fielders and the fans more into the action.

  19. scatterbrian - Apr 12, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    I actually think this is the Quote of the Day:
    “He’s the freakin’ head honcho of baseball, but he doesn’t feel confident enough in his role to simply state something obvious with authority. Instead, he invokes the names of two guys who he believes have much more weight and credibility than he himself does, likely believing on some level that his opinion wouldn’t matter otherwise.”

  20. Bob - Apr 12, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Let’s not be a hypocrite, Bud. The games are longer because there is a 2 and a half minute break every half inning so that sponsers can get their messages to the viewers. That’s big money to the owners. So don’t just blame the players without mentioning the TV revenues that owners will certainly not give up.

  21. scott - Apr 12, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    If a player steps out of the box and adjusts his batting gloves after taking a pitch it usually isn’t because the gloves have come undone in reality. They have come undone in the perception of comfort the hitter constantly battles with in his head during an at-bat. If you think your gloves are loose then they are, if you think your helmet is crooked then it is. If you think you’re playing well because you wear women’s underwear then you are. If Ubaldo Jimenez was about to fire a 3 digit heater in my direction I don’t want the thought of my gloves possibly feeling a bit loose to enter my head mid windup.
    Solution: Step out after every pitch and adjust everything, in reality this adjusts your head the most so you can step back in and be comfortable and focused.
    It’s a routine, and thus part of the game. Any Ump has the authority to order a hitter back in the box if he is taking too much time. As for Hank and Torre saying they never stepped out, maybe they didn’t, but it also wouldn’t be the first time players from eras past have made a claim implying that the players of today have it easier.

  22. Snuffy - Apr 12, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    I can remember Jesus Alou back in the sixties always stepping out of the box to flex his neck muscles. Dude always played with a stiff neck or something. Drove me crazy.

  23. HaloFan - Apr 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Scott – that’s ridiculous.
    What if my “routine” between each pitch was to eat a sandwich, drink some Gatorade, check my email, and update Twitter. Since that’s my “routine”, is that okay? I mean, I can’t be expected to focus on the heater if there’s a chance my inbox might be full.

  24. Brian - Apr 12, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    Don’t worry, Joe Morgan solved everything last night on Baseball Tonight. In order to speed up the game you can’t let players take close 0-2 pitches. Yes, everyone, that is the Joe Morgan plan to speed up the game!
    Also, I don’t normally play the captcha game, but “between hardwood” is kind of funny.

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