Apparently, Major League Baseball is seriously considering adopting the instant replay. I sure hope so. After several decades of having my heart routinely stomped by the brutal boots of crappy umpiring, my thumper is beginning to look like a jelly donut smushed through a spaghetti strainer.
There are many arguments against instant replay in baseball, but I won't bother disputing them, because it's not a question of right or wrong—rather, it's a simple matter of preference. Some people want to preserve the purity of the game. My sensibilities tend toward preventing aortic rupture. Nobody is wrong.
There is, however, one argument against employing instant replay with which I concur: the notion that doing so will further retard an already too retarded game. I use the word “retard” literally: “to make slow.”
Now, I truly love baseball, but with games often lasting three or four hours, I ask you, who has that kind of time? That's just too long. Baseball is loaded with all this excessive, time-consuming, ceremonious bullshit that has nothing to do with the functionality or appreciation of the game itself. It's like when you download new software on your computer you get all this dreck that only serves to slow down your machine and ramp up your nerves.
In order for me to fully get behind the instant replay (as if MLB cares what I think), the powers that be must first find a way to un-clutter the baseball machine. Fortunately for MLB, I have ideas:
1. Introduce a pitch clock: Once the batter is in the box, the pitcher should pitch the ball. All this thinking and pacing and ball-grinding and nut scratching and batter-staring and Jesus-praying that these pitchers do before they feel ready to throw makes me want to pitch a brick through the screen, which I could do in a fraction of the time. Introduce a pitcher's play clock, sirs. Twelve seconds is more than enough time for them to scratch their groin, scuff the ball, shoot off a quick prayer to their deity and deliver.
2. Harsh penalties for game interference: I'm recommending brain re-programming through hypno-psycho-electroconvulsive deprivation, denailing and waterboarding therapy for everyone who crashes the field during game time. The reprogramming sessions should be videotaped and shown on the JumboTron between innings. A torture bloopers reel would be a fantastic addition to the repertoire.
3. Expedite intentional walks: What an absurd waste of everyone's time. The batter goes through all the trouble of strapping on his helmet, taking warm-up swings and stepping into the batter's box only to stand there—impotent as little Eddie Gaedel*—as the pitcher and catcher play keep-away with the ball. Who wants to watch this? Just wave the guy to first base and get on with it.
4. Eliminate honorary first pitch: Do I really need to see my president throw like a girl on national television? Do I really need to watch some brat from the local elementary school who won a spelling bee or something delay the start of my baseball game with this honorary, fake first pitch? Not unless Satan himself emerges from the bowels of Hell and throws a first-pitch fireball that incinerates the catcher, the umpire and everyone sitting behind home plate in a conflagrant orgy of screams and death do I need to see any honorary first pitches.
5. Warm-up pitches: A relief pitcher is allowed eight practice throws from the mound, during which the game is put on hold. We don't usually see the warm-ups on television, but it extends the game just the same. The only difference is TV viewers get to watch more commercials while stadium viewers get to watch more of this pitcher-playing-catch-with-the-catcher business. (I think there's something going on between those two.) Pitchers say they need to get the feel of the mound. I say, “Quit bitching and pitch the ball, bitches.” You'll get all the warm-up you need in the bullpen and like it.
6. Limit pickoff attempts: Two per base runner is plenty.
7. Abolish infield-fly rule: I will never understand why baseball has the infield-fly rule. If you hit an infield pop up with a man on first base and fewer than two outs, that's your bad. No different than the typical double-play grounder. Maybe removing the infield-fly rule won't speed up the game that much, but watching the fielder sit under a pop fly while the runners try to figure out what to do, then see them all scramble for safety as the ball is intentionally dropped would be a helluva lot more interesting than watching the umpire kill the play before the ball ever hits the mitt.
8. Delete extra innings: My greatest fear while watching a game is that the Yankees have a late lead and the other team comes back to tie. I would almost rather lose at that point. The last thing I want to do after sitting around watching three hours of baseball is to view a bunch of haggard players dragging themselves on and off the field into the wee hours of morning. Major League Baseball should make the 10th inning the sudden-death inning. It should be pitched by a third-grade spelling-bee champion. Whichever team is the first to smack a liner directly into the third-grader's face wins the game. I would stay awake for that.
9. No more rain delays: Bah! Play ball!
10. Eliminate manager mound visits: Yaaaaawn. What could the skipper possibly say that the pitcher doesn't already know?: “OK, Mariano, I'm thinking a good strategy for this next batter is to, um, try to get him out. Maybe pitch him some strikes, mix in a couple of balls for good measure, then, you know, get him out or something. It's just a suggestion—your call.” * Eddie Gaedel was the infamous dwarf who appeared for one at bat for the St. Louis Browns in 1951. Eddie had a one-and-a-half-inch strike zone. He walked on four pitches. Before the at-bat, Browns owner Bill Veeck reportedly told him, “I'm going to be on the roof with a high-powered rifle…. If you so much as look as if you're going to swing, I [will] shoot you dead.”Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and editor@sd citybeat.com. For more poems about pine tar, visit www.edwindecker.com.