We Fans Need Work on Our Timing, Too
Frank: Winning two series at
home was nice, but the fans were left with the taste of bitter Soup after the
10-4 drubbing Sunday by the Mets.
Artie: You bring Jeff Suppan
in with the game tied and what do you expect, Ken Macha? The Brewers just
dropped Claudio Vargas from the roster, and they ought to ask him if he'd like
a roommate making $12.5 million to share the expenses in oblivion.
Frank: Anyway, the last four
home games got me thinking about something I saw recently at Citi Field, the
Artie: Decent starting
Frank: That was true when I
saw them play the Yankees, but I'm referring to a message to fans that the team
puts on the scoreboard before the game. It's this: If you go to a concession
stand or bathroom during the game, "As a courtesy to other fans, please
wait until an at-bat is completed" before returning to your seat.
Artie: Wow, a piece of
common-sense, common-courtesy advice in New
York, the land of "Waddya gonna do about
Frank: Every team should show
that message—repeatedly—because I can tell you from my observations last week,
lots of fans don't show consideration.
Artie: I see it, too. People
seem completely unaware of what's going on in the game, so they head down the
row with their beers and hot dogs while a play is going on. People in the row
have to get up, people farther back lose sight of the field, and everyone
misses all or part of a play.
Frank: On Saturday night
Rickie Weeks hit a triple—the most exciting play in baseball—and just as he was
rounding second a guy in the row ahead of me started going back to his seat. I
leaned and got a glimpse of Weeks reaching third, but everyone was distracted.
Why couldn't the guy have waited in the aisle for three more seconds?
Artie: I'll tell you why.
Because lots of people have no social awareness at public events anymore. It's
like they're watching the game the way they do at home, where they can get up
and go to the kitchen whenever they please. Cripes, it's mind-boggling to me
that people don't realize their actions affect others.
Frank: I'll give you two more
examples. Last Thursday the Astros scored a run when Weeks ran down a grounder
but threw wildly past first. Just as the ball was hit, a woman came traipsing
down the row ahead of me and I lost sight of Weeks. But the worst was in late
April against Pittsburgh.
In the first inning, Ryan Braun was on first and Prince Fielder was up. Just as
a pitch was coming in, several folks trooped into the row ahead of me. I heard
the crowd reaction as Fielder hit the ball, then more reaction to something,
and when I finally saw the field again Braun was standing on third and Fielder
was in the dugout.
Artie: What had happened, or
did you ever find out?
Frank: Fielder grounded out to
the right side, and because the Pirates were overshifted in the infield Braun
saw that third base wasn't covered and just kept on going. An unusual play—and
one I would have liked to see, if the arriving people had bothered to pay
attention and lingered in the aisle for a few more seconds.
Artie: This is my point. When
I'm coming back from a beer run and I see a play in progress I stop. And often
I crouch down to make sure people behind me can see, too.
Frank: Now, where did you
learn that habit? You must have been doing it since you were a kid.
Artie: I think it was what
people did at the ballpark in those days. But not anymore.
Frank: I'm not saying that
people are being deliberately rude. I think they just aren't watching what's
going on in the game—but they should. A little more awareness would produce a
little more courtesy and a lot less frustration for those who suddenly lose
their view of the field. Lord knows there's enough dead time between at-bats!
Going on the Clock
Artie: Hell, people might not
have to wait for the next at-bat. Just wait until a pitch is over—half the time
you've got a good 30 seconds before the next one is flung.
Frank: As we've noted before,
there is a major-league rule—Number 8.04—saying that with the bases empty, a
pitcher should deliver the ball within 12 seconds of receiving it back from the
catcher. Of course it's never enforced, and when men are on base or a foul ball
is hit, everyone goes into slow motion. But did you see what the Southeastern
Conference did last week in its baseball tournament?
Artie: Nope, didn't catch it.
Frank: The conference
instituted a "pitch clock," requiring pitchers to throw within 20
seconds. If they exceeded the clock a ball could be called, and batters
couldn't back out of the box within 5 seconds of the limit.
Artie: Great idea! You think
Commissioner Selig was watching?
Frank: SEC Commissioner Mike
Slive said Sunday on ESPN that the league "saved about 15 minutes per
game" in the tournament and that fan reaction was terrific.
Artie: Gee, another bit of
common sense that should be commonplace in baseball, ain’a?
Frank: I remember that back in
the ’60s Charlie Finley had a 20-second clock installed at the stadium in Kansas City—not that
anyone in baseball took it seriously. And I remember that in the late ’90s,
when there was a team called the Madison Black Wolf in the independent Northern
League, there was a 20-second clock at their games.
Artie: Every year or two Selig
and his aides shake their fingers and say, "This time we're really, really
gonna do something to pick up the pace of games." And then nothing gets
Frank: A few months ago Selig
appointed a special commission to make those kinds of recommendations. Let's
hope they saw what the SEC did.
Turn a Cold Shoulder
Frank: So in 2014 the Super
Bowl will be played "in New York,"
which means in New Jersey
at the Giants/Jets stadium. Does that cold-weather commitment mean a Lambeau
Field Super Bowl could be next?
Artie: That's a conversation
not worth having. There's no way it could happen.
Frank: Cities don't get the
Super Bowl because of their stadiums. They get it because they have zillions of
fancy hotel rooms and plenty of plush places where the corporate fat cats can
Artie: Strike 1 and Strike 2
for Green Bay.
What, are the big shots gonna spend two weeks at the Oneida Casino, or limo-ing
back and forth from Appleton?
More Green and Gold
Frank: It's Celtics-Lakers in
the NBA Finals. Any rooting interest?
Artie: You betcha, for two
reasons. One, I can't abide anything involving L.A.,
so I want Kobe
to flop. And two, I really enjoy watching that Rajon Rondo play the point for Boston. He's a terrific
talent. Oh yeah, and three, because I like Ray Allen, who should still be a
Buck. But one more thing: If basketball is being played in June, they should do
it outdoors on concrete.
Frank: Gee, I thought you'd
just say, "A pox on both those arrogant franchises."
Artie: What's more, I'm kind
of interested in the Stanley Cup Finals between the Blackhawks and Flyers, if I
can remember what channel they're on. How about that? I've expressed an
interest in soccer on skates.
Frank: The real test comes
next week, when I try to get you interested in soccer on grass—namely, the
fast-approaching World Cup.
Artie: Don't get your hopes up.