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Will the pitch clock save Marquee from themselves?
Sometime in late 2013 I got a package from a book publisher with a personal note from an author asking me to read and then write a blurb for a book that was going to look back on the first hundred years of Wrigley Field.
The book only ran about 190 pages and I knew the author well…not personally, I just knew who he was, and so I dutifully plowed through it in a couple of days.
I remember the book got off to a rocky start because it was dedicated to Bud and Sue Selig, and the author, while a lifelong Cubs fan had written a previous baseball book and dedicated nearly 100 pages of it to Tony LaRussa and called him “The Genius.” And I don’t think he meant it nearly as derisively as I do when I refer to Tony that way.
Anyway, the author was Washington Post political columnist and Champaign, Illinois native George F. Will. The book was “A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at 100.” You can get it today for about four bucks more than I paid for it.
I don’t remember that much about the book other than a) I wrote a blurb and they didn’t use it, b) Will printed an enjoyably expletive laden explanation by Babe Ruth of his supposed “called shot” in the 1932 World Series1, c) Will confirms the tale that Harry Caray got run out of St. Louis because he was having sex with Gussie Busch the third’s wife2, and d) that the book was surprisingly interesting. There’s a whole section about the assassination of Chicago mayor Anton Cermak for some reason.
Anyway, the reason I thought of the book again recently was that I just figure George Will is the kind of guy who would be anti pitch clock because I’m sure he has said a billion times that the best thing about baseball is that there isn’t a clock.
And I’ll just say that after a couple weeks of spring training games with a pitch clock, I’m really glad baseball has a clock now.
Reflexively, when baseball commissioner Tob Manford started pushing for the pitch clock a few years ago, I was against it, because, you know, fuck that guy.
But the game continued to slow to an unwatchable pace. It’s hard enough to carve two and a half hours out of your day to watch the Cubs do whatever it is they do every day, there’s no way we should have to set aside three and a half for it.
And when you watch a game with the pitch clock the first thing you notice is that you don’t miss any of the stuff that’s gone. The pitch clock forces hitters to stay in the box between pitches instead of wandering around rubbing their balls and fucking around with their batting gloves. Pitchers can’t amble off the mound and aimlessly molest the rosin bag.
People who had watched minor league games the past couple of years insisted that the pitch clock was a major improvement. Games weren’t rushed but they went at a more watchable pace. We didn’t listen to them because they were mostly prospect perverts, and in their next breath they’d tell you that Ethan Roberts reminded them of a young Tim Hudson, so your eyes would roll back in your head and you’d pray for a seizure.
But I’ll tell you one thing we don’t need. We don’t need to see the clock in the scorebug. Look, I already fixed Marquee’s scorebug and I made it perfect, there’s no room for that stupid pitch clock.
Their current scorebug is a poorly rendered, barely utilitarian piece of shit and the last thing we need is them adding a terrible little LED knockoff timer on it.
Once again, I find myself needing to explain something to the east coast dopes who run Marquee.
I guess I could give them credit and assume that they are just using the timer in the spring to demonstrate the difference and then once the real games start there will be no need to keep showing it.
But let’s be honest. When given a chance to make the wrong decision, Marquee always makes the wrong decision.
We don’t need the timer. Baseball shouldn’t want us to see the timer. This whole thing is meant to seamlessly speed up the game. Wasting screen space on it is the opposite of that. It’s all so very Marquee.
Ideally, the only time we’d see or hear about the timer is when one of the teams gets penalized for violating it.
One unintended benefit I hope to see out of the pitch clock is that with less dead time during games there won’t be enough time for Marquee to junk up their broadcasts with extra people.
Not enough time for Ryan Dempster awkwardly appearing as the third man in the booth for no apparent reason.
Much less time for Taylor McGregor to bother the parents of whatever Cubs player is making his debut that day.
I guess they’ll just have to save that scintillating content for the pre and postgame shows that nobody watches.
Oh, who am I kidding?
We know what’s going to happen. Dempster’s still going to barge into the booth, Taylor’s still going to read full articles from The Athletic to us and not attribute any of it, and they’re just going to talk over even more of the action than they used to.
Kevin Burkhardt, who you may remember from calling the Super Bowl this year for Fox got his TV start as the Mets’ sideline reporter for SNY. And during one of this interviews on one podcast or another before the NFL season last year he talked about what the SNY producer told him before his very first game.
Burkhardt was told that they knew it’s impossible to come up with interesting things for every game, and that the play on the field would dictate how often they went to him. His main job was to try to get updates during games if something happened like an injury or a weird scenario or whatever and that his secondary responsibility would be to fill time if things got boring. The producer told him that sometimes they’d go to him several times during a broadcast, but sometimes they might not go to him at all. Basically, if you don’t have anything really interesting that night or the game doesn’t dictate a need to have you on, you won’t be on.
If only Marquee would adopt that approach.
It’s amazing just how much of Marquee’s added content to the broadcast actually adds nothing to our enjoyment of the games.
Remember when they bragged about all the cool cameras they were going to have to give us exciting new angles on the game?
And there’s the weird wind meter they show before games with the big red and green numbers superimposed over the outfield that they never go back to. It’s supposed to tell us why a ball got out or stayed in, but it’s almost like they just show it at the beginning of the game because they have a sponsor for it and then they lose interest. Hmm.
They spend more time blathering on and on about the 50/50 raffle and the dopey ballboy down the third base line than they do actually talking about the games.
Maybe quicker games with more action will force them to just let Boog and JD do their stuff without interference.
Oh, who are we kidding?
Babe’s explanation starts out, “The Cubs had fucked my old teammate Mark Koenig by cutting him for only a measly half share of the Series money…” Seems about right for this franchise.
George passed on a chance to confirm that Gussie the second had Harry pushed into the path of a streetcar. But that happened that same year.