GETTING IT RIGHT

John Granato: Hey baseball, pick up the pace. And we fix a lot of other sports problems

Dallas Keuchel does not like the idea of a pitch count. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Let’s pick up the pace, guys.

Every sport has made moves to speed up their games; every game except baseball, that is.

Actually baseball is so averse to catching up to the times, one of their recent changes added time to the games. How awesome is it to see four umpires stand around with headsets on while New York decides if a ball in the fifth inning of a 10-1 game is fair or foul?  Riveting.

I was in the Astros spring training clubhouse when they learned about the new rule that would limit teams to six mound visits per game. You’d have thought they cut their paychecks in half.

“Stupid.” “Ridiculous.” “A unilateral move.” “They didn’t ask us.” All things they said about Commissioner Rob Manfred’s newest innovation to the game.

They’re right about the unilateral move. Manfred says he worked with the players’ association to come to the decision but not so much. It was the least hated idea that he wanted to implement so they went with that. The most hated idea that he wants to implement is a pitch clock.

I asked Dallas Keuchel about that. He wasn’t pleased with the possibility. “That takes some of the best pitchers who are trying to really focus in on their game and take it pitch by pitch and take some of the integrity of the game out. We’re not playing basketball here. We’re not playing football here. Baseball is a non-pitch clock game so it’s frustrating to see hopefully there’s not any backlash.”

That’s a lot to digest. First of all, I don’t get how that messes with the integrity of the game. Making pitchers throw pitches in less than 20 seconds will not affect the game’s integrity. It’s already been implemented in Double-A and Triple-A for the last three years. It hasn’t changed those games. Guys are coming into the league now working fast. They’re used to it.

And no baseball is not basketball or football. It’s slower, and at times, dare I say it, and I’m a baseball fan, more boring. This is a different world and I’m not just talking about millenials. Even old guys like me want stuff faster.

“Baseball is a non-pitch clock game.”  Yep.

And there was a time when basketball was a non-shot clock game. In 1968 Duke and N.C. State played an ACC tournament game that ended 12-10. A player dribbled without shooting or passing for 13 consecutive minutes. Then they instituted a shot clock and that atrocity never happened again. Can you imagine paying money to watch that?

There was a time when there was no forward pass in football. Actually it was always in the rules but nobody tried it. Then they did. There was an outcry but they got over it and it turned out OK.

Remember when they didn’t keep score in soccer? Me either. They always have. I just made that up.

Baseball, you can get better by playing the game faster. Don’t fight it. It’s progress. But there are other rules I’d like to see changed in the sports world. Here are a couple:

No more Hack-a-Shaq or Hack-a-Dwight or Hack-a-DeAndre. It’s brutal to watch a bad free throw shooter shoot horrible free throws multiple trips down the floor even if he makes them sometimes. This is entertainment. That’s not entertaining. We are there to watch some of the world’s best athletes compete at the highest level and instead we get bricklayers chucking up air balls.

The argument against changing the rule is that we shouldn’t reward a guy just because he can’t shoot free throws. He’s a pro. He should be able to make free throws. Fact is he can’t so don’t punish us. Instead of high flying non-stop action we get clock stopped bricks. That’s no fun.

Here’s a solution. If he has the ball he’s fair game. Foul him. That’s on them for giving him the ball. But if he doesn’t have the ball and you foul him the team has the option to just take the ball out of bounds. So all you do is pick up a foul. No advantage gained. In the last two minutes you get free throws and the ball. Problem solved.  

The biggest issue in the NFL is the National Anthem. Easy fix. No players on the field for it. That way we don’t know what their stance is. If they want to address social issues on their own time that’s their right. We’re there to watch football not politics. Problem solved.

One of the worst things in all of sports is the wave. Somehow. some way this must be stopped. It’s embarrassing to mankind. I don’t know who started this but they should be remembered the same way we remember Judas, Benedict Arnold and Justin Bieber; vile individuals who ruined life as we know it. Here’s the new rule: if you do the wave you will be kicked out of the stadium. No exceptions. If you start the wave your season tickets will be revoked. If you don’t have season tickets you will be banned from every stadium in America. It’s a fair and just punishment. Problem solved.

These are probably the biggest issues the sports world faces today. There are more. I can’t fix everything in one article.

Baseball pick up the pace.

Basketball stop the free throw atrocities.

Football let’s just play football.

Fans stop embarrassing yourselves.

Problems solved.

 

 












 

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Houston went yard several times

Astros take series from Angels with a home run parade

Houston homered their way to another series win Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After losing the opener then winning an exciting game Tuesday night, the Astros were seeking another series victory by winning the rubber match on Wednesday. They would blast homers all through the night, pushing them over the Angels in the finale.

Final Score: Astros 9, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 20-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Andrew Heaney (1-3)

Astros grab an early lead, Urquidy exits with injury

Houston made early noise in Wednesday night's game, with Jose Altuve turning around the very first pitch of the bottom of the first inning for a solo homer. A two-out single later in the inning set up Yuli Gurriel for his seventh home run and 30th RBI of the season, putting the Astros out to an early 3-0 lead.

Jose Urquidy looked in control through the first three innings, allowing just two hits while maintaining the lead. However, after recording the second out of the fourth, he would be visited by training and coaching staff on the mound before being removed, later diagnosed with posterior shoulder discomfort. Brandon Bielak would quickly enter the game, picking up where Urquidy left off by keeping the Angels off the board.

Tucker stays hot as Bielak locks in out of the bullpen

Still 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Kyle Tucker would extend his recent hot streak by putting two more runs on the board with a blast to extend the lead to 5-0. Bielak remained in the game in the top of the seventh, having allowed just one hit while retiring all other batters since entering in the top of the fourth. He made it through that inning, putting Los Angeles down 1-2-3, and stayed on the mound in the top of the eighth.

He wouldn't be able to get any further, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, putting runners on the corners and prompting Dusty Baker to go to the third pitcher of the night, Andre Scrubb. The Angels would get on the board with a sac fly to make it 5-1, but Scrubb would finish the inning with no further damage.

Astros continue the home run barrage to take the series

Yordan Alvarez would get the run back with Houston's fourth dinger of the night, a solo shot to make it 6-1. They continued to pour it on, with Chaz McCormick joining the home run parade with a three-run blast later in the inning, making it 9-1. Joe Smith would take over on the mound in the top of the ninth, finishing off the lopsided win to give Houston the series victory as they turn the page to another division opponent.

Up Next: Having already faced the rest of the division in 2021 multiple times, the Astros will have their first series against the Texas Rangers starting Thursday at 7:10 PM Central at Minute Maid Park. In the opener, Cristian Javier (3-1, 2.90 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston, going up against Mike Foltynewicz (1-3, 4.50 ERA).

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