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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 08:18am
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Depending upon the area in which you live (I'm from NY), this thread might be ludicrous, but IMO the games today in general are taking way too long.

What makes matter's worse at least in NY is we have no Gong rule better known as the Mercy rule. There is a 15 run limit for Modified, Freshman and JV but no such animal for Varsity.

Yesterday's JV game took 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete but just as easily could have been 4 hours and change. I did everything I could to move the game along ie; calling strikes on batters leaving the box. etc., but these kids were just plain lethargic, F1 couldn't pitch in LL minors let alone HS and F2 well let's just say I thought I was back in HS playing Dodge Ball.

It was really amazing because this week in NY the weather finally broke and it was great baseball weather compared to last week's frigid Temps.

In addition at one of the fields I was at this past week, there was other activity going on at the school and I was shooting the breeze with some LaCross officials. I asked them what other sports they officiated and they rattled off a few which did not include baseball. I asked them whether or not they thought about officiating baseball and they gave me a quick and EMPHATIC resposne - NO and pointed to their watches meaning if a sport isn't TIMED I'm not officiating it.

Now, there are a few schools who have really good programs from modified right thru Varsity and whenever one is assigned those particular schools it brings a smile to one's face, but those are too far and few between

The other paradox that I find is that there are certain sites which have a drop dead Time Limit on them because of scarsity of fields. in othere words, the game starts at 4 PM and the Teams have to be off the Field by 6:15 PERIOD. However, strangely enough those games are almost always completed in time.

IMO, a 7 inning game should not take longer than 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. There's simply NO EXCUSE for not hustling on and off the field. F1 throws strikes and the fielders field their positions properly.

Some of my friends have actually switched from Boys Basbeall to girls softball. The games are completed in roughly 1 hr to 1 hr and 15 minutes. In addition, these individuals umpire other softball leagues and one of my friends made a good peace of change officiating a Weekend Softball Tournament. Also, Summer softball is picking up also. There is a Girls Program in my area called Diamond Dolls plus other men's and women's leagues.

If you take our HOURLY rate it isn't all they great. I know we are not in it for the money but the money does help. Perhaps the "TIMED" aspect of baseball is another reason there is a general lack of HS Officials.

We talk about rules specifically the new FED appeal rule but if I could have my wish I would like ONE REGULATORY change and that is HS Games should be TIMED.

My freinds keep asking me to try Softball plus some of the other TIMED Sports and one of these years I might take them up on their offer.

Pete Booth
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 08:53am
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Did a game yesterday (JV) that lasted 75 minutes. I don't think I've ever had one that lasted more than 3 hours. You take the good with the bad. Only Freshman games in Mass., are not allowed to start a new inning after two hours. G.
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 09:36am
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Golly,

I had a FED varsity game once:

7 innings,
3-1,
Home run by Harold Reynolds to win it,

47 minutes. That's right 47.

Baseball should NEVER be played by a clock . . . the game has symatry and that would be spoiled by clocks.

Of course I am now a RETIRED umpire and I can go home whenever I want,

hehehehe

Tee
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 10:19am
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I make a LOT of money (at least for part time) officiating basketball and baseball. I started reffing basketball five years ago to stay in shape for baseball, although I have come to enjoy it for it's own merits. However, money is not my prime motivation.
In my area they are BEGGING anyone and everyone to officiate lacrosse, soccer and field hockey. Faster games, double headers, more $$$. Same argument for trying to get umps to switch to softball. I have had many of those 3+ hour JV/FR games over the years. Some of the lower level Varsity games aren't a whole lot better. But then, I've also had the 90 minute games.
While I am on a baseball field, I'm not jealous of my fellow lacrosse refs running around on the adjacent field, even when they are leaving and I'm in the fifth inning. If I get to the point that this makes me miserable, I'll know it's time to give it up. I have a passion for baseball that can't be matched by any other sport, a desire and dedication that causes me to really enjoy officiating it.
For me persnally, officiating a faster game that I really don't care about would not be worth the quicker money. I don't NEED my officiating income to survive, so perhaps I have a different outlook than some guys. The aspects that make baseball different are some of the things I love best, like no clock (I never wear a watch on the field).
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 10:22am
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Feel Your Pain

Our Babe Ruth program (Prep 13s) started this weekend. We have a rule that inning can start after 2 and 1/2 hours after the game starts. All 4 games did not make it to seven innings. It seems that whatever we do as umpires, unless the quality of pitching and hitting ( just putting the ball in play) is there it is going to be a long day. As for the impact of the time limit on the teams, when 2 and 15 minutes rolls along, then the teams realize that they need to move the game along but it is too late.

Of the 20 HS games (mostly Frosh/JV) I have done this year, once again quality of pitching/hitting determined the length of game. Two average quality teams meant around 2 and 15 minutes of playing time.

Finally, besides quality of teams, the pace of the game is influenced by the pitcher readiness to pitch. As the pitcher matures from a Frosh to Varsity, it appears they work at much faster pace.
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 10:38am
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I hear you, Pete. In NJ, there's a time limit for everything but varsity. Last year, I had a JV game that lasted 3:15 (injuries, high score, and extra innings). It's also true that a lot of umps here are turning to softball. Games rarely go two hours, the pitchers throw strikes, and the pay, because of the equality laws, is the same. I do baseball and softball and will also assert, though it may be politically incorrect, that the pressure is lower. We have some terrific talent around here, but the girls' games simply aren't as taxing in terms of officiating.

On the other hand, baseball is not a clock game, and severe problems can arise when it's to a team's advantage to stall or speed. Can't go along with a time limit for varsity, but why the games take so long should be investigated with an eye to a remedy of some kind. It seems to me the kids just do everything so slowly today, from switching sides to finding the right bat or helmet to delivering the pitch. And the courtesy runners, and the wild throws to 2B after the warm-ups, and the substitutions. And the injuries. So many games are delayed by injuries that players used to shake off. Call the trainer. Oops, he's down at the other field. Send the electric cart, etc.

Major League games take an hour longer than they used to, and calling the high strike isn't going to change that. Commercial breaks (and specialty relievers) burn that clock.
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 11:30am
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Angry

I used to umpire slow pitch softball and the time clock ticking down does make the participants work with a sense of urgency.

Last night I had a college game go nine innings in just under four hours.

In my opinion, areas that need to be addressed regarding length of games are:

Granting time so infielders can pat the pitcher on the butt pitcher after each batter reaches base.
Granting multiple catcher trips to the mound to counsel the pitcher each inning.
Too many pitches allowed by umpires between innings.
Too many signals to be relayed with runners on (F6 to pitcher, coach to F2, F2 to pitcher, etc.)
Every time a pickoff occurred the signals had to be relayed from each of the above again.

Shall I go on?
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 11:49am
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I'm at 39 games so far this year. One went 2:58 and aonther went 2:15. Both of those were 9 innings. One 8 inning game went 2:01. Everything that has finished without exra innings was finished in less than 2 hours, with the best being 1:13. (I carry a stopwatch in my back pocket. I start it after the pregame conference, and stop it when I walk out the gate after the game.)

In my experience, much of the extra lenght gets added to games between innings. Fed and OBR both specify one minute between innings. I've watched games where time between innings streaches to 3 or 4 minutes. Add 2 minutes between each inning of a Fed game and you just added 28 minutes to the game time.

I've watched umpires talking wih each other, talking to coaches, or even talking to fans while pitchers threw 9 or 10 warm-up pitches. I've watched as teams huddled before going out on the field on defense, and then were still alowed to take more than the allowed warm-ups. I've watched umpires allow batters to walk twenty feet up the third base line between pitches to take signals. I've watched as the game stopped while umpires called for balls to be thrown in after a foul ball.

All of thes things don't add a lot of time by themselves, but they do add up.

Game management includes time management. If the umpire hustles during the game, and encourages the coaches and players to hustle the spirt catches. If a team fails to get all the allowed warm up pitches in their one minute, stop the warm-ups and call for a batter. The next inning F1 and F2 will be sprinting to their positions to get their pitches. Coaches will appreciate what your are doing, and will begin to look forward to having you at their games. They don't want the 3 hour games either.

Get yourself a stop watch. Don't make a big show of using it(unless you are in a time limit situation in which case it will be the official clock).Use it as a tool to guage your time management and I'll wager that your game times will begin to go down.

Roger Greene

P.S. 1:30 JV game completed tonight. 6 full innings, visitors win 12-2.

RG

[Edited by Roger Greene on Apr 11th, 2002 at 07:24 PM]
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Old Thu Apr 11, 2002, 05:45pm
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Some professor figured out that the average American in his lifetime spends a certain number of months or years or whatever waiting at stoplights. I spend more time waiting for catchers to fix equipment that came undone.
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Old Fri Apr 12, 2002, 07:58am
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Thumbs down

Time limits and baseball should never be spoken in the same sentence. I hate when AAU tourney's come into my state and they schedule too many games on limited fields. Then they throw a time limit on the game.
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Old Fri Apr 12, 2002, 08:48am
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In my are around Pgh., we have some leagues that have a rule where an inning cannot start after a certain time. Example, 6:00 start, no inning starts after 8:00. We also have leagues where there is a time limit, 1:45 or 2 hrs. As for High school ball, there is none, but for the most part, the games are done in less than 2 hours.
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Old Fri Apr 12, 2002, 10:19am
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Lightbulb Easy way to solve this problem.

Enforce the rules you have in front of you.

If you do not watch the number of warmup pitches that are taken. Limit the times the batter leaves the batters box(NF). Limit the time conferences are taken, you can limit the time the game takes and most of all, call STRIKES. Stop making pitchers of HS and below become Pedro Martinez with their pitches.

If many umpires in my opinion do not take care of business when they should, games take longer. I rarely have a game that takes 2 hours. And when I do, it is because so many errors are made or the pitcher could not hit the broad side of a barn. All those are out of my hands in the first place. This is why I love college games so much. The style is most different than all other levels. They do not mess around, they challenge hitters and make them hit it.

Peace
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Old Fri Apr 12, 2002, 12:34pm
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Time limits create tactical incentives for managers to slow down the game when they are ahead. It would be interesting to see if any league has included an option for the umpire to "add time" for delay.
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Old Fri Apr 12, 2002, 03:23pm
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In time-limit games, I matter-of-factly announce during the ground rules that injuries will stop the clock, as will any stalling. During some games, I have also announced, when one team, for example, seems to be stalling so that the inning will finish after the deadline, that we are going to play the next inning. Over the years, I've seen teams get away with disgraceful delaying tactics, but I've also seen umps lay down the law. Ultimately, though, baseball and time limits are inherently incompatible.

JRutledge has it right in his post. The better the players, the easier it is to umpire.
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Old Sun Apr 14, 2002, 02:51pm
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Pete -

It is unfortunate that some baseball games are longer than they should be or need to be. As many officials have stated in this thread, some reasons are valid and justified and have a direct correlation to the level of ball being played, and other reasons are due to poor time management skills by officials.

The game of ball shouldn't have time constraints. However, there are circumstances that, unfortunately, warrent time limits. Mostly this occurs when multiple games are being played, at the same site, on Saturdays or Sundays when the objective is more likely related to a shortage of fields available and lots of teams and games, which necessitates instituting game time limits.

Considering the above, it is my opinion, that only well-heeled and well-skilled officials are vigilant in keeping the game moving. Time management is a rewarding quality that many officials seem to overlook. If an official hustles all the time on the field, it is easier to get all game participants to do likewise. No matter the cause, sweeping clean the plate, line-up changes, pitchers warm-up throws or retrieving foul balls, they all need to be managed in a more effecient manner.

Officiating is hard work if it's done correctly. I've discovered that as my career has evolved I've become more aware of the value in good time management skills. By doing so, I now know, that games, when I'm on the dish, only take as long as they have to.

I've added this subject matter to the agenda for our next association clinic. I think the subject needs to be added and stressed in meetings as well as umpiring training programs throughout the gendre.

Yesterday I had a Pony game (13-14 yr olds) that went extra innings, 12 to be exact, and did the game 'solo' in 3 hours and 10 minutes. The temperature was 90, although it seemed liked 110 and I'm sure I lost 5 pounds. At this level most players have not yet matured and tend to take a little longer performing all of the various elements required in the game of ball, but I was pleased that the game only took the amount that it did. Another umpire doing this game would have been on the field for more than 4 hours. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. All the kids, however, had a great time and were so jazzed and couldn't believe they were playing so many extra innings. The loosing team in no way felt like loosers, and the winning team was so relieved and humbled that they squeezed out a victory, and this umpire new that 30 kids had experienced at wonderful day at the park.

Good subject. It needs to be addressed more regularly.

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