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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Eight Balls for a Walk

Everything about baseball goes by too fast. It needs to be slowed down, stretched out, made to last longer. Eight balls for a walk, with the intentional kind requiring sworn affidavits pertaining to original intent as well as footnoted dissertations regarding the true meaning of purpose. Seven strikes for an out. Five…no, six outs to an inning. Twenty-three innings to a game, unless it’s tied after twenty-three, then they gotta play twenty-three more.

Batters need to step out between pitches every pitch. Pitchers need to meet with their catchers between every batter and pull up a chair if the count reaches seven-and-six. Coaches, managers, therapists and spiritual advisors can and should visit the mound frequently enough to earn a nightly footlong from Subway.

The season needs to start sooner, say January 1. The season needs to end later, say a year from January 1. Spring Training can take place during mound visits from October to December. All games should begin five minutes after the hour every hour. If we don’t like the way the game that began at 7:05 is going, we layer a new score on top of it at 8:05, and we keep going until we’ve put twenty-three or forty-six or more innings in the books.

The goal of lengthening baseball is to make it less and less like other sports, endeavors and distractions. All of life that isn’t baseball is a distraction from baseball. Baseball is essentially perfect as is, but these changes will make it more perfect and presumably more attractive to people who haven’t yet figured out how perfectly attractive baseball is. The more baseball, the better. Baseball fans can attest to that. Non-baseball fans will now be given every opportunity to figure this out for themselves.

By keeping going and never stopping, baseball will become more pervasive until there is no chance that it can be avoided, though why anyone would want to avoid baseball is beyond the comprehension of baseball fans — the people who already love baseball and can’t get enough baseball and support baseball and anticipate baseball and find the defensive posture of those who wish to make baseball more palatable to the portion of the population that doesn’t recognize its essential perfection absurd.

Speaking of defensive posture, all fielders will henceforth shift so much that we will forget what positions they play. Should balls get by them, time will be called and they will be summarily replaced by another fielder on the 85-man roster, except in September, when there are 105 players available (half of them lefty relievers), and November, when there are no limits on personnel and all mitts come equipped with handwarmers.

An alternative to this total-immersion approach to broadening the essentially perfect game’s appeal is to more or less leave it the fudge alone. I’m good with that, too. I’m good with what works for those who’ve embraced baseball their entire lives and those who are intrigued enough to begin embracing baseball at first sight. Baseball is for everybody. If everybody isn’t for baseball, that’s everybody else’s problem.

14 comments to Eight Balls for a Walk

  • “All of life that isn’t baseball is a distraction from baseball”. Great writing…Great post.

  • joe nunz

    Steve Trachsel endorses this post.

  • Rhonda

    I could not agree more… I just wish MLB would take note of the feelings of true fans… Stop f@*%+#g with it. Also, please stop all the speculation about a DH in both leagues. I have NEVER heard from a single NL fan who wants this atrocity added to OUR game… We want our heros to go on and retire gracefully (see Michael Cuddyer).

  • nym25

    The best way to speed up the game would be to develop pitchers who can throw 9 innings.

  • Ed

    New Rule: Extra innings must be played on video game such as mlb the show or hey lets go back to the classic Nintendo game! Good post Greg nice work.

  • Pete In Iowa

    Great post Greg. I don’t think the “powers that be” will ever watch out for our interests as legitimate fans who truly love the game.
    That said, 3 things could be done to speed up the game a little while not messing with it at the same time:
    1) Managers shouldn’t be allowed to lollygag around waiting for someone looking at a replay to decide whether to challenge or not. Challenges should be made immediately, before the next batter gets into the box. Of course, the next batter could speed his way into the box, but that is the point to begin with. Just like a football team hurrying to the line of scrimmage after a questionable call. It works!!
    2) Somehow limit trips to the mound. Arrive at some sort of a total of defensive timeouts allowed per team per game. Pitching changes excluded from time-outs.
    3) Eliminate 30 seconds of commercials during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. This would save 3 minutes during perhaps the least-watched innings of a game. Rightly or wrongly, this assumes the beginning and end are the most watched.

  • Paul Schwartz

    1. great
    2. greater
    3. greatest but I’d make it more greatesty. How about eliminating 30 seconds of commercial between EVERY half inning. That would save at least 8 1/2 minutes and to make up for the lost revenue, a mere 15% boost in cost to the advertise. or maybe, make do with a few million less — players and owners. Kids might actually watch the game longer and you’ll develop the next generation of fans.

  • Dave

    nym25 is right, pitchers who can go 9 innings would speed things up, as would relief pitchers who can get both left and right handed hitters out in innings 6 through 8. And if you watch a game from the old days, you’ll notice that hitters didn’t step out of the box after every pitch like they do now.

    Many nails hit squarely on the head as usual, Greg. Any fan would gladly watch these slow deliberations that are actually baseball than more commercials for Planet Honda or Dr Eric Karp, who is a board certified some kind of doctor or another, and giving you back your life is his life’s work (this is what we have to watch in Jersey). But commercials obviously mean income. Don’t like baseball? Watch something else.

  • “Baseball is for everybody. If everybody isn’t for baseball, that’s everybody else’s problem.”

    Couldn’t have said it better. :)

    Don’t be messing with my game. Baseball as it is is fine. People just need to slow down a little, stop and smell the rosin.

  • Eric

    For those of us who predominantly listen to or watch the game at home, the best way to speed up the game is more play-by-play men like Howie Rose and Gary Cohen.

    I don’t think length of the game is the right metric. More important is the pace of the game. Is the game crisply played?

    Also, are the motions and machinations within the game interesting? The main difference between regular season and post-season play is that regular season play can become repetitive. But in the post-season, the riveting chess moves come out – manager vs manager, pitcher vs batter, base runners vs pitcher and catcher. 162 games is probably too long of a grind to play all season with that kind of intensity, but I’d like to see more of that kind of heightened quality in the regular season.

  • Dennis

    How about batters who step out of the box and dick around after every pitch? I’ve watched a few games from the 60’s on YouTube recently, and its amazing how so many of the batters step right back in to get to work.

  • mookie4ever

    Dennis is right, that constant readjusting slows game down more than anything. It’s death by a thousand tiny cuts. Just enforce the rule they already have! Or umps just call a strike after each step-out, batters will get message real quick. The same thing could be done to traschelian pitchers with extra balls called.

  • Lenny65

    I’m a traditionalist too. I still refuse to accept the DH and consider it an abomination against all that is good. I detest inter-league play and demand the return of scheduled doubleheaders. I want more Old Timer’s Days too. Doing away with the intentional walk…what’s next, four fouls is an out?