Working the count has become baseball's sadder lexicon
It was exactly one hundred years ago when
It went, of course, like this:
The three gentlemen who were upsetting the sports-page poet in 1910 were the double-play combination of shortstop
So the pitcher retaliates by taking more time and the catcher makes serial trips to the mound, and the batters call time out constantly, incessantly monkeying with their batting gloves, delaying, loitering, dragging out every at-bat. Hitters who can take pitches and get walks now seem more valued than hitters who can actually . . . hit.
Come back, steroids: all is forgiven.
So the games get longer. The average time now approaches three hours. Our hero is Cowboy
Defenders of baseball always get very sensitive when critics snort that the game is too slow. Yes, part of baseball's charm is that, by taking its time, it enjoys an intellectual suspense other sports don't. A slow dance is more romantic. At a certain point, though, the obsession for working the count is twisting the game's cherished rhythm into stultifying sluggishness.
And so, a century on from Tinker to Evers to Chance, we have, this year, "Baseball's Sadder Lexicon:"