David Ortiz calls the pace of play rules that baseball is implementing this year “bullshit.”  Relief pitchers are worried that they’ll be hurried too much when they come into games because they’ll “only” have two minutes to get from the bullpen tot he mound and take their warm up throws.

Oh, boo fucking hoo.

I think the speed up the game rules are dumb.  I think actually having a pitch clock in AA and AAA games this year is asinine.  But I also am tired of everybody in baseball bitching about…everything.

I know it’s supposed to be romantic that baseball doesn’t have a clock.  It’s the only sport that doesn’t.  Well, except for golf and tennis and all the other ones that also don’t have clocks.  I don’t see any romance in it, and yet I also think the idea that it needs one is what David Ortiz said.

Here’s all I want to see happen with baseball.  I want to see pitchers take the throw back from the catcher, get right back on the rubber and throw the next pitch.  I want to see batters take or foul off a pitch and stay in the box and get ready for the next one.  I don’t need to see pitchers wandering around the grass behind the mound molesting their rosin bag and rubbing the ball like a genie is going to pop out of it.  I don’t need to see the hitter wear the Velcro off his gloves for no apparent reason and saunter in a big circle all the way to the on deck circle and back after every pitch.

Here’s a little hint, fellas.  None of you are smart enough to actually think of anything important while you’re dawdling on the field.  Your best chance of successfully doing what you’re on the field to do, is to react.  You are too dumb to get any advantage out of playing slowly.

And how do we know this?  Because the smartest guys figured out it was best to do things quickly.  Greg Maddux was the king of get the ball and pitch the ball.  He already knew what he wanted to do and he was going to just do it.

Growing up a Cubs fan, there were two guys who were painful to watch on the mound (well, there were hundreds of guys who were painful to watch, but two guys in particularly who did it slowly.)  One was Steve Trachsel.  The other was Rick Sutcliffe.  Turns out, they were slow for completely different reasons.

Trachsel was just always that way.  Scouting reports of him from both of the colleges he pitched at included how friggin’ slow he worked.  He didn’t get faster in professional baseball either.  Hell, he pitched his ass off in the play-in game in 1998 against the Giants and had a no-hitter through six, but nobody noticed because he had walked six guys and hit a batter.  And, because it was taking for fucking ever.

I never understood why Trachsel worked so slow.  And he did it in a weird way.  He just stood on the rubber for a long time before every pitch.  He wasn’t strolling around the the mound, he was just blankly staring at his catcher.  I suppose he thought it made hitters uncomfortable.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that it made his fielders bored and it made me uncomfortable watching it on TV.

Sutcliffe didn’t always work slow.  When the Cubs got him in 1984 he was mostly a get it and throw it guy, but as his career went on with the Cubs he worked slower, and slower.

But he had a reason.  And a pretty darn good one.  Later in his career his shoulder would hurt so much that the reason he was pausing between pitches was that he was waiting for the throbbing from the last pitch to subside to some kind of acceptable level so he could at least throw the next one.  He says he couldn’t comb his hair with his right hand for a couple of days after each one of his starts because he literally couldn’t lift his arm up high enough.

I don’t know why batters take so damned long between pitches.  Starlin Castro practically undresses and redresses between pitches.  Nomar was the worst, because his between pitch routine didn’t just take a long time, it was so manic.  Velcro, Velcro, grab the top of the helmet, do some weird backwards yoga bend, grab the cup, Velcro, Velcro.  It was exhausting to watch.

The only good between pitch pause was Felix Pie’s.  His between pitch nut grabbing was so thorough that the TV cameras stopped going wide on him between pitches.  He was a walking FCC fine.

You think steroid guys put up dubious numbers?  Felix didn’t have many hits, but they were all “tainted.”1

When everything about baseball’s attempt to speed up the game is said and done, a lot more will be said than done.

When we hear players bitch about how they can’t be rushed, we’ll just remember that yes, there’s a lot of strategy to each pitch in every game.  But these guys have been playing this game for a long time.  They aren’t smart enough to think of anything new.  Just throw the damn thing, and just get ready to hit it.

The rest of it is just lollygagging.

Here are those annoying footnotes.

  1. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  Get it, tainted?