Friday, April 18, 2008

Skip Bayless Doesn't Know his Elbow from...

Last night/This morning, the Padres and Rockies played a 22 inning marathon which ended in a 2-1 Rockies win. With the tying run on first base and 2 outs in the bottom of the 22nd, San Diego reliever Glenden Rusch had to bat for himself (all position players had long since been used up) and, predictably, struck out looking. The game lasted a bit over 6 hours.

On ESPN's "First and 10" this morning, the CEO of the International Association of Hot-Air Blowers, Mr. Skip Bayless, argued that a game like last night is unfair to fans and to players. He suggested altering the rules so that starting in the 15th inning, teams will receive 4 outs instead of 3. Thus increasing the chances of runs scoring. Thats an idea. But, then again, deciding to go out and play in traffic is also an idea.

Bayless' suggestion is lame for several reasons.

1) Simply scoring runs does not end baseball games. So what if the visiting team scores a run in the top of the 15th thanks to receiving 4 outs instead of 3? They still have to record 4 outs in the bottom half of the inning in order to win the game. That won't shorten the game. Actually, it will prolong it as each half inning takes longer. And, as it won't actually facilitate the ending of the game, its just plain dumb.

2) Most fans left Petco Park this morning well before the final out. Diehard fans will stay regardless, but, fans who show up at the game with their families or casual fans who come for the heck of it will leave after getting their 3 or 4 hours of entertainment, or whatever amount they hoped for. Lets not pretend that baseball games hold unwilling spectators hostage until the final out. Leaving baseball games early is an American tradition.

3) For diehard fans, 13 Extra innings is the baseball equivalent of Christmas. Extra innings aren't like ordinary middle of the game innings, which, even this baseball fan will admit are not the most thrilling time of the game. Extra innings are edge-of-your-seat time. Any pitch can be the deciding moment. The last 3.5 hours of that game were tense. I dare say that if asked, there wouldn't be too many among the fans who stayed for all 22 innings who would say that they hadn't enjoyed themselves. Just because Skip Bayless is jaded, bitter, and (though this hasn't been historically verified) responsible for starting the War of the Roses, doesn't mean that his dislike of long games is universally shared.

In short, Mr Bayless, there is nothing wrong with a 22 inning game. Those that have other things to do can leave whenever they like. Those who crave high-tension well-played baseball can bask in the glory of 22 innings worth. I only hope I'll be so fortunate as to see an epic like last night's game in person someday!

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