There’s been a flurry of comments about umpire Joe West’s complaint about the Yankees and Red Sox dragging out the length of games.  I must admit I was biased in Mr. West’s favor.  After all, I’m interested in watching baseball not players adjusting their gloves or scratching their nuts.

Tonight the Yankees played the Texas Rangers and were rained out in the 7th inning.  While waiting for the game to restart I flipped over to the Rays-Red Sox game; a picher’s dual tied 1-1 in top of the ninth.  It seemed to me like the game was dragging.  Suddenly, I remember what my old boss used to say: “Metrics, you need to support your idea with metrics”. So as Carlos Peña approached the plate I decided to time how long it took Jonathan Papelbon from receiving the ball to the time he set for delivery.  Here are the results.

27.7

42.7*

29.0

50.9*

26.7

35.7

33.0

it took 4:44.4 minutes for Paplebon to walk Peña.  This doesn’t seem too bad for a walk until you realize that 4:05.7 was Paplebon dancing around the mound.  Five minutes for one batter to walk was enough to kill my interest in a tied game –imagine what it does to the casual fan.

It’s time for the umpires to get tough.  No more time-outs to batters unless the fly is undone or their shoe comes off.  And, if necessary, a shot clock in center field should clock down 12 seconds for the pitcher to deliver to the mound otherwise it is a ball.  That would restore some sanity to the game.

*   For some inexplicable reason, Umpire Brian Gorman granted time after Papelbon came to the set position.

UPDATE: Ken Levine, who does baseball post-game for the Dodgers and has an excellent blog, made a similar posting at the same time I posted this.  Great minds, etc.