29 April 2010

Game Time Part II: Response to Joe West

Before I empirically demonstrate the importance of several factors regarding time of game (the research for which I will unveil next week), I feel yet compelled to comment on the controversy sparked by Cowboy Joe West. Yes, I know it's old news, but I bet this isn't the last time this will come up. My view: if Mr. West is looking for a solution to quicker games, perhaps he should look in the mirror.

I agree with what Wallace Matthews said in his piece defending Cowboy Joe West--not with his defense per se, but with what he notes in his column:
...baseball instituted a rule that requires a pitcher to deliver within 12 seconds of when he is set on the mound and the batter is set in the box... They authorized the umps to issue warnings and even fines...and even assessed balls to Indians pitcher Rafael Betancourt for violating the 12-second window twice in a 2007 game.
So there you have it. If a pitcher is dilly-dallying, the umpire can assess balls on the pitcher (or strikes against a batter, although the rules differ substantially). As far as I know, Joe West's crew didn't issue any balls or strikes for slowing down the pace of the game in the season-opening series at Fenway. Take note: we have these rules in place for a reason, and the umpires refuse to employ them.

Aside from the very unsettling principle of an umpire publicly expressing a bias against specific teams, what's really troubling here is that an umpire is criticizing a team for something that he himself should be taking care of. In my not-so-humble opinion, if Joe West wants to speed the pace of play, the best course of action would be to do his job and enforce the MLB rulebook.

That said, I agree with Jonathan Papelbon (for the first time in my life):
During spring training, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon told WEEI.com: "Have you ever gone to watch a movie and thought, 'Man, this movie is so good I wish it would have never ended.' That's like a Red Sox-Yankees game. Why would you want it to end?" (ESPN 4/9/10)
Couldn't have said it better myself, Paps.

Game Time Series
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Response to Joe West
Part III: What Makes Long Games Long?
Part IV: Head-to-Head Matchups

(Photo Credit: Major League Umpires)


Sturgeon General said...

Just to play devil's advocate... I do believe the 12 second rule does not apply when there are runners on base.

That said, I agree. One point not addressed also is the fact that Joe West is under no obligation to grant a hitter time. He complains about the length of the game yet continually allows hitters to step out of the box immediately before the pitch.

JD Mathewson said...

@Jason, good points both. If I could get stats on how often umpires grant time or how often it's requested, I'd definitely test that. Tough info to get though.