On the Clock
Last week veteran umpire Joe West caused a stir with his ill-considered rant against the Red Sox and the Yankees for the glacial pace of their season-opening series. West criticized players for stepping out of the box between pitches, fiddling on the mound and failing to heed Bud Selig's calls to speed up games.
West had a point, but his anger was misguided: It's not what happens between pitches that slows Boston and New York, it's the pitches themselves. In their three-game set (average time: 3:38) the two ultraselective offenses saw a combined average of 322.3 pitches per game, 24.4 more than the average for every other game through Sunday. Yes, batting-glove adjustments should be limited. But when two patient lineups match up, long games are unavoidable.