Baseball's new alpha-male, Robb Manfred-Selig, wants to eliminate the five-hour game. Good for him. Four hour games would be nice... unless they come with five-hours worth of ads.
Traditionally, we've known that - at least 17 times per game, not counting pitching changes - when a third-out is recorded, you have 2 minutes and 45 seconds of free-range jazzercize. For me, that means:
Get up from the couch. Put popcorn in the microwave. Take a nice, leisurely crap, while reading the long piece article in the New Yorker. Change the furnace filter. Get out the binoculars and see what the neighbors are doing. Crack a new beer, check a porn site, get your popcorn and flop back onto Mr. Couch.
Best part: You still had two minutes of down time, while the Fox or ESPN velvet voice pumps up some upcoming, World Celebrity Breast Jousting competition, or a can't-miss episode of "Turd Demons." You never missed a pitch. Bernie hadn't even walked to the batters box. You still had time to jack up the lift and change the oil on your Subaru (That's a sexual metaphor, FYI.)
The new rules say each inning-ending break will strictly adhere to the 2:45 limit. (This is for nationally televised games; local broadcasts allow for 2:25 minute breaks.) As soon as the commercials end, the pitcher should be ready to throw. They're going to be moving things along, like one of those hilarious old Benny Hill speed-up sketches, done to the tune of "Yakkity Sax."
One question, though? What will happen to all those promotions for "Becky Beal: Pole Dance Lawyer?" ("By day, she seeks justice. By night, she's a lawyer.") How will the Yankees sell tickets for Jorge Day, or Andy Day, or Willie Day, or Bernie Day, during the dog days?
Well, we know what's going to happen. The commissioner didn't say anything about cutting back on ads. He just wants them more efficiently crammed into the game action.
In other words, MLB games next year could be turned into a nonstop stream of cooing about Cellino and Barnes, New York Life and the Hebrew Home at Riverside... which I've heard is like a college campus. Whenever something happens on the field, it'll trigger a promotion - somebody will "paint the corners" or be "safe and secure' - like on the Yankee Radio Network Driven By Jeep.
We all want games to move faster. It would be nice to improve the product, too.
Frankly, I have evolved into my own way of watching Yankee games. I ignore the third through seventh innings. I watch the first two, then return in the eighth. If it's close, I'll pick it up from there. If it's not, I spared myself the humiliation of wasting a night.
Here's an idea, Mr. Manfred. man: Show some stones. Tell teams and networks to cut back on in-game ads. (Oh, and speeding of ads, how did we get to a world where cable TV can sell hard liquor and vapor cigarettes? What esteemed lawmakers grew rich in exchange for turning over the airways to the distilleries and tobacco makers, and when should we expect to see guns advertised, as well? I grew up in a world were TV wasn't allowed to sell whiskey and cigs. I thought that was a good thing. What happened? And why was there no national debate?)
What's going to happen to all those promotions that used to run after the cut from commercial? Aw... does anyone really need to ask?
Oh, well. At least it'll be fun hearing Joe Buck wax on about the Hebrew Home at Riverside. I bet he's been there!