This blog entry comes hours after our third game here in Grand Prairie. This season in the American Association the league officials came up with the new rule to have 90 seconds in between innings from when the last defensive player crosses the lines. This was constituted to speed up the games. This rule has been adopted by the NCAA as well, but they also have a 20 second pitch clock for time in between pitches. I understand and totally agree that the game at times can drag and take awhile.
When I was in Toledo I would see the umpires in between innings have a stop watch to keep the warm up times short, but it never became an issue. For these first three games in Grand Prairie the umpiring staff have been all over both teams about this rule. I understand they have to reinforce it and abide by it as we do as well, but they have taken it to another level. From the first pitch of the game these umpires are chirping telling us to get in the batters box and not giving pitchers ample time to warm up. Twice tonight the opposing teams catcher wasn’t “allowed” to throw the ball down to second base to end wrap up the warm up routine. This clearly upset the catcher and manager. Two coaches and one player were eventually ejected for arguing the speed up rule. The ejections ended up stalling the game for about 20 minutes, which definitely defeats the purpose of speeding the game up. I’m not sure what the penalty is if a pitcher throws more warm up pitches or if the batter takes too long to get into the box. Umpires might be able to call a ball or strike on them depending on the situation.
To summarize, I totally agree with the rule to a degree. Teams were told about this rule from the beginning of the season and we will go with it. But when it becomes a power-trip by these umpires it is not fair to the players. We all are out there for 3 hours a day to play America’s greatest past time and give the fans a great show. Someone is eventually going to get hurt for not getting the proper warm up throws in. My theory is to have the umpires remind the managers at the beginning of the game about the rule. If the time becomes an issue throughout the game, then they can give a warning or ask the team to get out of the dugout a little quicker in between innings. They shouldn’t be starring down at their stopwatch, clapping their hands, trying to speed us up every single inning. They even are yelling at the promotion and on-field personnel people who are trying to do their job as well. More players and coaches are going to get ejected because of this rule because the umpires are abusing their power of authority.
Lets just have fun and play ball.