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Sometimes Baseball Isn't Pretty

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If you want to know why some people hate baseball look no farther than this game.

Here is Rule 8.04 in Major League Baseball's official rulebook:

When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call "Ball." The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.

There is an inherent flaw to this rule: it only takes affect if there are no runners on base. If someone is standing on first base, hell take your time. Polish your nails, clean your shoes, talk with your catcher.

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It really becomes a mockery when a half-inning that sees 21 pitches takes 30 minutes to complete, when watching grass grow or paint dry becomes a preferable activity, when the fans start cheering for strikes and outs just to keep the game moving along, when even Vin Scully had a word or two to say about the pace of the game.

I won't bore you with the particulars of the game because I might fall asleep at the keyboard trying to recall. The Rockies beat the Dodgers 7-3 in a game that took three hours, 54 minutes to complete. It's not quite on par with the National League record of four hours, 27 minutes that the Dodgers and Giants took part in on Oct. 5, 2001, but at least that one had scoring with the Dodgers winning 11-10.

No. This one saw both starters struggle. Josh Beckett lasted only four innings being on the hook for all five Rockies runs.

"It's just frustrating," Beckett said. He acknowledged he has to make adjustments, but the outcome has to change. "I've got to make better pitches."

Once Beckett got in trouble, he really took his time on the mound. "Josh seems to slow it down when things aren't going good," Mattingly said. "They do have guys out there you have to pay attention to on the bases. But he works slow at times."

Beckett was a bit more honest about his assessment. "You don't tend to get in rhythm when you're getting your ass kicked."

One starter having problems is one thing, but two? Juan Nicasio needed 92 pitches to get out of his four innings of work. He gave up three runs including a two-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez that slipped into the right field seats.

After the four innings were done two hours had elapsed and the details thereafter were fuzzy. Even the crowd of 32,848 dwindled down to about a thousand, although why they stuck around I don't know.

Perhaps this is our retribution for seeing Clayton Kershaw pitch every five days — his game on Sunday lasted two hours, 21 minutes. Perhaps this is a lingering effect of Beckett coming from Boston.

Whatever it is, let's just hope that this game is an isolated incident both for my sanity and the health of baseball.

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