The coldest winter I ever spent was the last five minutes of a basketball game. What does this mean, exactly? I’m not sure. My brain can be very weird. You should see it sometime. Seriously. It’s here on the desk beside me, next to my cup of chicory. It’s wearing a pair of Captain Morgan souvenir sunglasses – the brain, I mean, not the chicory – and one of the lenses is missing. This gives it a kind of “crazed” look, but I would say it’s really more “demented” than crazed, or that the sun is in one of its eyes.
But let me tell you, basketball games last forever, if by “games” you mean those last five minutes and if by “forever” you mean, like, forever. Why, just the other night, I watched the last five minutes of an NBA playoff game and in the meantime began to enjoy the musical stylings of Lawrence Welk. I also found Angela Lansbury to be a handsome woman. In addition, I began to fart without intending to do so.*
*If you still haven’t caught on to what I’m saying, please consider: I also began reading AARP publications, not for the articles but for the pictures.
Anyhoo, nobody seems concerned about the length of basketball games. Why? Because those last five minutes come with commercials through whose content we might learn that beer is best enjoyed “cold.” But baseball games? Jiminy Cricket, people have been moaning about their length for-EH-verrrrrrrr, as if baseball games were Ming Dynasties or Phish jams, or Phish Jams whose themes, coincidentally, are Ming Dynasties.
To that end – ha! – I hereby offer these proposals for accelerating the game:
1) During pre-game formalities, replace the ceremonial first pitch with the ceremonial first blink or, better, the ceremonial first nothing.
2) Whenever Josh Beckett is pitching, stop him from pitching.
3) Whenever a batter is taking a particularly long time between pitches, place a 1000-volt shock collar around his neck and keep a finger poised at the button. If he still attempts to step out between pitches, release the hounds.
4) Just before David Ortiz commences his otherwise casual home-run trot, position a nitrous oxide canister in his underpants, as though his underpants were the air-intake system of a souped-up Mustang, and promptly engage it.
5) Whenever a reliever enters the game, require him to do so on a high-speed magnetic levitation train or in a large pneumatic tube.*
*By 2020, replace the train and tube with a teleportation device a la the Star Trek transporter. During rematerialization, ensure that the pitcher (e.g., Craig Kimbrel) does not return with Gorn’s arm or Chekov’s haircut.
6) Whenever a new pitcher is warming on the mound, replace the ball with a hot potato. Literally. If he is hungry, promise him sour cream and bacon bits.
7) If a player is injured, replace him with a souped-up Mustang.
8) Whenever umpires pause to review a call, release the streakers. Things will jiggle, and time will fly. If time does not fly, re-release the hounds.
9) Make sure that fans loosen up before the 7th inning stretch, perhaps with light calisthenics and sports massage, plus Icy Hot where needed. That way, they might perform more efficiently, with fewer of the groin strains and back spasms for which selfless major leaguers often take time out to pray.
10) Whenever a coach visits the mound, mandate that a properly vetted Army sniper shoot regulation BBs at his feet with a Daisy pump-action air rifle.
11) During the second game of a day-night doubleheader, enact a stipulation that pitchers must throw only fastballs. In an exception to the proviso, R.A. Dickey must throw faster knuckleballs. In a separate stipulation, Shelby Miller must throw strikes – or closer balls.
12) In the top of the 10th inning, tell the pitcher that his car is getting towed.
13) In the bottom of the 10th, tell Derek Jeter that his woman is getting restless.
14) In the top of the 11th, tell Jeter that his other woman is getting restless.
15) In the bottom of the 11th … chicory!
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.