Friday, March 04, 2011

Ten Most Boring Plays in Baseball

Even a baseball purist and all time apologist like the Fan knows there are  times when a ball game can get a bit stagnant. So it's not really sacrilegious to say it out loud. If you have watched hundreds of baseball games, there are certainly times that make you roll your eyes or have them glaze over. And baseball is not alone with this problem. Hockey has its icing rule. Football has the extra point-commercial-kickoff-commercial routine. Every minute of every game can't be a hootenanny. So here are the ten worst, in no particular order.

1. The idea for this post came from something that bores the Fan endlessly. And that's when a person on Twitter does a play by play of an exhibition game. Do we really need that to happen? Anyway, this tweeter tweeted (isn't all this language silly?) twice in a row about two players grounding out unassisted to first base. And thus, this event makes our list. By the way, the order of this list is meaningless. We aren't rating them. Boredom is boredom and there aren't degrees. But getting back to No. 1, is there a more futile at bat then when a left-handed batter grounds unassisted to first base? The only time this event was not boring was when Bill Buckner screwed his event up.

2. More than one pick-off attempt to first base. The pick-off attempt is pretty lame anyway. Rarely does it work. It's even worse when there is a man on first and third and the pitcher does one of those karate moves by faking to third and then to first. First of all, isn't a balk when you try to dupe the runner? But beyond that, as boring as pick-off throws are, at least throw the darn thing.

3. More than one pitching change in an inning. This is THE baseball equivalent to the extra point-commercial-kickoff-commercial thing. It's especially pukey when it's done with nobody on base. If there was one rule the Fan was allowed to make it would be only one pitching change an inning. The Fan actually throws things at the television when a LOOGY is brought in, walks the only lefty he was supposed to get out and then gets pulled immediately after. What a waste of time.

4. Catcher/pitcher conferences. Jorge Posada is the Zen master of this particularly irritating and boring event in baseball. Why would a catcher have to go out to the mound to talk about signs the first time a guy gets on second? You couldn't have discussed that in the dugout?

5. Manager/umpire arguments. Many of you will argue this one and you would be right sometimes. But that manager has to be good at it. If you have a Lou Piniella or Billy Martin, it's down right entertaining. But if you have a Mike Scioscia with his hands in his back pockets calmly discussing the umpire's call for eight minutes, it's boring. There are more like that latter than the former.

6. Pitchers bunting. This is a National League problem only. Personally, the Fan likes seeing a good-hitting pitcher hit. But even those guys are asked to bunt repeatedly if someone is on base. Everyone knows it's going to happen. Everyone knows the third baseman is going to field it and throw the guy out at second. It's bloody awful.

7. The intentional walk. This is another rule that the Fan would like to abolish. 45,000 people just paid $25 to $200 to see Albert Pujols hit and the other team is simply allowed to walk him on purpose. What a crock. Last year, there was quite a flap in New York because Mariano Rivera got mad at Joe Girardi for the latter's instruction to intentionally walk a batter. Rivera is a real man's man and he knows that the intentional walk is an act of cowardice. It's also boring. And why does the pitcher have to throw the pitches? Why, because one out of a couple hundred times, the catcher might miss the ball, allowing the runners to move up? As long as you are going to have a sissy, boring rule, you might as well just have the catcher put his hands up and the batter simply trots to first. How lame.

8. A fielder calling time out to go get his sunglasses. Sorry, Pal. If you didn't bring them out with you, you should be out of luck. But no, we let them run all the way in from center field and get the darn things. But the Fan does love when this happens AFTER the fielder let a ball drop in safely because he lost it in the sun. It's a little late now, don't you think?

9. The infield fly rule. The Fan knows that this rule is necessary because it IS unfair if the infielder simply lets the ball drop to get a cheap double-play. But it's still boring. Anytime there is an event in sports where there can be no doubt about the outcome is boring.

10. A broken bat that doesn't result in a ball put in play. A bat shattering but the ball in play is kind of exciting in a demolition derby sort of way. But when the broken bat simply results in a foul ball, then we have to wait while the batter works on the new bat to get it to feel just right. Can the Fan ask a stupid question? Why wouldn't you simply have two or three bats already prepared before the game starts? Does putting pine tar on the bat before you use it cause the wood to rot?

Honorable Mention: The sequence when the pitcher and catcher disagree on the sign and then the batter steps out. This is usually followed by No. 4 with a pitcher/catcher conference.
Honerable Honerable Mention: The in-the-stands broadcast team member. These are always boring except for the Tampa Bay Rays telecasts. They are the best this Fan has ever seen at making this feature work.

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