Obviously, by now, we've probably all heard the comments by Joe West about the pace of games between the Red Sox and Yankees. (In case you haven't, here's a link to the article from our very own commentor, Rich Mahogany). Recently, Mo responded to those comments, suggesting Joe West find something else to do if he's too busy to sit through the whole game.
Putting aside issues of Mo's clear awesomeness, West's remarks and Mo's response have raised the issue of pace of games. Even John Heyman took a break from peddling misinformation on behalf of Scott Boras to chime in on the issue (he feels West's comments, while misguided and inappropriate, did have a measure of truth, and he blames Papelbon for the problem, which makes him my favorite columnist).
Most members of the media and Nobel laureates have been patiently awaiting RJG's response to the issue, so here goes . . .
We've been hearing about pace of game issues for a long time, but the truth is nobody gives a $#!%. Let's consider the following three scenarios: Going to a game; Watching a game on TV; and following a game online.
Going to a game: For our purposes, let's assume hypothetical fan X is going to a live Yankees game. If he lives in the city, he's probably taking the subway, which means at least one-half hour of travel time to the game and, because of foot traffic after the game, at least an hour to get home. If you're driving, even if you live at the Bronx County Courthouse, you've committed yourself to something between 2 and 8 hours of total travel time, most of it spent looking for parking and not moving in traffic. It's possible you even traveled to New York from a far enough distance that you preferred a train or plane, and to make a weekend of it. Point is, you don't care how long the game is (regardless of who they're playing), because you probably dumped your life savings into the two to four tickets you bought and you weren't hoping to squeeze the game into your lunch hour anyway.
Watching on TV: Let's assume a worst-case scenario from the 'games are too long' perspective, you have the YES Network and thus are pretty much subjected to every hour of every game of the season. Poor you. The length of the games forces you to stay up late every night. Pretty soon you're oversleeping, coming in late for work, getting fired, missing your mortgage payments, and turning all those mortgage back derivatives into toxic assets on the books of our most hallowed financial institutions. Thanks a lot, Yankees, you ruined the global economy. Unless of course viewers have some semblance of will power, only watch full games on weekends or when they otherwise have time, and are perfectly content to find out the final score for most games the next day since there are, after all, 162 of them. So, safe to assume, home viewers don't care either.
Following Online: This is the way most of us follow games, allowing us to keep tabs on our favorite team and avoid doing any work between the months of April and November. Frankly, you wonder what the hell the rest of the world does during the day considering that despite the existence of Gameday, America is still the most productive nation in the world. Half the purpose of following a game online is to get you through your workday, generally between 8 and 10 hours. The longer the game, the less time you have to refresh your email inbox and google your own name. Online viewers aren't concerned with pace of game, except when the games are over too quickly. Then they might have to actually do some work.
Now, we see that none of the viewers are actually complaining, but who is? Joe West is, that's who. And for some reason, in Joe West's world, we should care what he thinks. If MLB really has a problem, then the games could be shortened by cutting out or limiting TV breaks, as the aforementioned Rich has pointed out. They could also limit the problem by not letting ESPN begin coverage of big games at 8pm, forcing the games to end later than they need to. Of course, they could just blame players for taking too many pitches and trying to hold runners and things like that, you know, things which make teams successful. Either way.