Big League Stew - MLB

Drowsy fans of the 28 other big league teams no longer have to feel alone.

Someone in power also thinks these interminable Red Sox and Yankees games are taking too darned long.

After sitting behind home plate for three hours and 46 minutes on Sunday night, the patience of umpire Cowboy Joe West finally boiled over in Thursday morning's editions of the Bergen Record.

The veteran of 32 years labeled the turtle pace maintained by both clubs as "a disgrace to baseball" and said the players refuse to cooperate with the umpires when it comes to time-saving measures like staying in the batter's box and limiting trips to the mound.

From the Bergen Record:

"They're the two clubs that don't try to pick up the pace," said West, chief of the umpiring crew that worked the three-game series in Boston. He was the home plate umpire Sunday. "They're two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?

"It's pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play."

West, who has also released a country music CD, hasn't yet penned a hit song entitled "Get On With It, Already!" but it sure sounds like he'd like to. He says the umpires are committed to shortening the time of all games and that intention has come through during this Red Sox-Yankees series as several batters were denied requests for a time out.

Did it work? Well, Wednesday's 10-inning affair clocked in at 3 hours, 21 minutes. Still not a neat and tidy affair, but much closer to a big league average that hovers around 2 hours and 50 minutes these days.

I'm willing to bet that the league office isn't happy over West publicly airing such strong comments, but I'm happy that someone in a position of influence is saying something. Red Sox and Yankees games are always going to take a little longer because both camps are big advocates of their batters taking pitches and working their way into deep counts.

Their lineups are also loaded with sluggers and, hey, all those hits take time.

Still, there's no reason that both teams shouldn't join the cause of shortening their games and if it takes a public scolding from a veteran ump, then so be it. Should watching one of these contests really mean having to shave a ZZ Top-like beard afterward?   

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