Marathon Cubs-Nats Game 5 Latest Example Of How Postseason Games Take Too Long
The Cubs' 9-8 win over the National on Thursday night that puts them in the NLCS lasted 4 hours and 37 minutes, making Game 5 of the NLDS the "longest nine-inning game in playoff history," according to Chelsea Janes of the WASHINGTON POST (10/13). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra reported the average game time this postseason prior to Cubs-Nationals Game 5 has been 3 hours and 41 minutes. If the 13-inning Game 2 of Yankees-Indians is removed, it only brings the average "down to three hours and thirty-six minutes." There are a "lot of factors which go in to long games: replay reviews; longer commercial breaks in the playoffs; an increased number of pitching changes and mound visits; the tendency for max-effort pitchers ... to take longer and longer between pitches." The measures MLB has "attempted to institute to speed things up" are basically "ignored now that the games mean more." Regardless of the reasons for these long games, the result is a "bad product for anything but the most hardcore fans"(NBCSPORTS.com, 10/12). The average game time during the regular season was a record 3 hours, 5 minutes (THE DAILY).
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW....: In DC, Adam Kilgore notes MLB must decide which uses of instant replay "make for a better product." Nationals C Jose Lobaton was called out after an initial safe ruling when he attempted to "slide back into first base" during the eighth inning Thursday night. With the tape "slow and zoomed in, a viewer could see Lobaton's foot hit the base safe" before his leg lifted "off the base for a split-second" as Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo applied the tag. It took a "near-forensic video study, squinting to see if Lobaton's leg had come off the base." These kind of reviews can "lead to the kind of unintended result that occurred" Thursday -- the "reversal of a noncontroversial call to the naked eye that fundamentally changes a game, a season and perhaps the course of a franchise" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). NBCSPORTS.com's Bill Baer writes both teams' success or failure "hinged on Lobaton’s foot coming off of the bag for one-sixteenth of a second." The spirit of replay review "wasn’t about microscopic technicalities, it was about getting certain calls right." MLB should "greatly consider amending the rules to make it so that a player simply returning to the bag is grounds to be called safe, ending the pedantry of these types of reviews" (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Mike Oz asks, "Should this type of thing really be replay’s job? Is this really the spirit of the replay in baseball?" It is there to "correct bad calls, not help umpires find the split-second piece of evidence that negates what looks like a good call on the field." It is also there to "aid baseball’s human element not set cyber detectives loose into in the replay booth" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/13).
PLEASE REMEMBER ME: SI's Jon Wertheim noted MLB in the "best of times ... is consigned to the way, way back by it’s big, bullying brother, the NFL." However, this year is "especially striking.” When the Astros were closing out the Red Sox in the ALDS on Tuesday, the “top four sports headlines” were Vice President Pence leaving last Sunday's Colts game early, the NFL discussing implementing an edict requiring players to stand during the national anthem, President Trump claiming the NFL gets massive tax breaks and Trump criticizing ESPN’s Jemele Hill. Wertheim: “If Trump versus football is the headliner, the baseball playoffs are barely an undercard. … Baseball wracks its brain for how to speed up play, how to make players more colorful, how to connect with the younger audience. What it really needs: A truce between the most powerful man and the most powerful league” (FACEBOOK.com, 10/11).