The Beautiful Thing About Baseball Is That There’s No Limit to How Long Games or My Divorce Can Drag On
There’s no timer or kind, merciful judge to bust in and make it stop.
There’s been a lot of talk lately around Major League Baseball’s “pace of play” problem. Critics say that games go on too long, that fans today don’t have the attention spans to sit through a three-hour-long ballgame. But I disagree. To me, part of baseball’s beauty is that there’s no limit to how long my divorce proceedings can drag on.
Most other popular sports have some kind of countdown clock. The winner is whoever has the most points when that clock reaches zero, which puts an effective cap on how long each game lasts. But the amazing thing about baseball is that there is no clock. There’s also no clock in the courtroom where I spend most of my weekdays — time just slips on by!
Baseball is languorous and thoughtful. While enjoying a game, it might suddenly occur to you that you’ve been watching for hours, just like how when I looked at my calendar the other day I realized my wife first told me she was leaving me all the way back in February of 2017. Wow! You don’t get that kind of relaxed pacing from any other sport.
I think it’s thrilling how each at-bat is just the pitcher versus the batter, one on one, trying to find the weak spot in the other. It’s a battle of wills, and the opponents will keep battling until one of them gets to keep the Volvo. There’s no telling how long it might take!
Baseball is also unique in that there are a set number of outs each team must make off their opponent for a game to end, much in the way there are a set number of legal decisions that must be rendered before I can see my daughter again. There’s no timer or kind, merciful judge to bust in and make it stop.
I think that’s beautiful.
You may have heard recently that Commissioner Rob Manfred is considering instituting a 20-second pitch clock, to make sure pitchers aren’t hanging on to the ball for too long in between pitches. I think this is bogus! You can’t force a pitcher to speed up his rhythm, just like you can’t force the opposing counsel to speed up their painstaking descriptions of your failings as a husband and father.
Plus, each passing minute in baseball, and each passing week that you are forced to continue paying that bloodsucking lawyer out of your own goddamn pocket, affords you the time to reflect on things you normally wouldn’t notice. Maybe your eye wanders over to an outfielder stretching between pitches, loosely wandering around his perch, then snapping to attention when the pitcher delivers, taut, ready to catch whatever may come his way. Or maybe you happen to start gazing at your soon-to-be ex-wife on the other side of the courtroom, searching the contours of her face for any remaining scrap of warmth you still may feel towards the woman who once meant everything to you. It’s all in the details!
This would all be lost were someone to impose a time limit on baseball games or the harrowing end to my marriage. That’s why I believe that we shouldn’t worry about how long baseball games are taking. Let’s focus on the here and now — sometimes it’s better than thinking about what might come after the final out.