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 drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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