Baseball should adopt new slogan

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — They’re trying to speed up baseball, the only major sport not regulated by a clock.

The first step is the implementation of the automatic intentional walk. No longer will a batter stand in the box with the bat on his shoulder, watching four pitches deliberately lobbed out of the strike zone.

We won’t have that indignant “boooooo” from the crowd as soon as the catcher stands and extends his arm like he’s hailing a cab. No more will the fans get to whoop when a soft toss nearly sails past the catcher.

Should shave a good two minutes off the season, or roughly the time it takes for Francisco Cervelli to grimace and flex his hand after it’s been hit by another foul tip.

The intention may be correct here, but the execution is flawed.

Baseball games don’t drag because of the four pitches thrown on an intentional walk. The pace is slowed by needless dead time. Managers stand on the top step of the dugout, looking for a signal to tell them whether to ask for a replay challenge. The most basic replay reviews take too long.

Chatty catchers are forever visiting with pitchers during innings (Hello, Russell Martin). Batters who don’t like a call step out of the box and wander away to make their displeasure silently known.

Hitters fuss with batting gloves. Pitchers toss out baseballs that don’t feel right, then spend time rubbing up the replacements. Pinch hitters go through a Jane Fonda workout routine before they make their way from the on deck circle to the batters box. Then they stand outside the box, taking more practice swings.

Nobody will really miss the intentional walk, but that isn’t the issue.

Baseball could cut some of the dead time by adopting a simple motto: Cut the crap.

Eliminate the chatter, focus on keeping the game moving, and nobody will complain about how long it takes to play.

(Side thought: When you’re selling $5 soft drinks and $8 beers to a captive audience, should teams really want the customers to move out that quickly?)

Anyway, that’s it. Cut The Crap. Design a logo and stencil it on the fields in time for opening day. Official T-shirts, hoodies and caps available at retail outlets and online, of course.

Long-range view

Wonder how long it took the people in the upper reaches of Heinz Field to realize it wasn’t a very good seat for hockey?

It’s not like any of the tickets were cheap, either.

Outdoor hockey is an experience. It’s not good hockey, and it’s not a good value for ticket buyers, either.

The Flyers-Penguins game would have worked better in PNC Park, but the NHL had no interest in forfeiting half the ticket sales they made down the street.

The next time they want to bring an outdoor game to town, remember: They’re not doing the fans any favors.

Unexpected company

Sidney Crosby’s talent is undeniable. He’ll go into the Hall of Fame the moment he’s eligible.

But when Crosby recently reached 1,000 career points, a glance at the list of the players who have accomplished that feat revealed some unexpected names.

The superstars are obvious. But who knew Pat Verbeek (1,063 points) was on the list? Or Doug Weight (1,033)? They were both good solid players, but they’re not names that come to mind when pondering the NHL’s elite.

Roller coaster

Pitt has had a crazy basketball season under first-year coach Kevin Stallings. There’s been no way to predict what the Panthers will do from game to game.

On the other hand, late February arrives and Duquesne is, as usual, seven or eight games under .500.

There’s comfort in the familiar.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

COMMENTS