For reasons that scientists don't fully understand, there are
still a few humans in this country who watch baseball games on
television from start to finish, without the use of restraints,
amphetamines or toothpicks. Personally, for pure excitement, I
rank watching baseball on TV just below fungus sculpture and the
new 12-part PBS documentary on gout. "That's because you haven't
watched playoff baseball," the seamheads say. "You gotta watch a
So I did. I watched every minute of Game 2 of last week's Oakland
Athletics-New York Yankees Division Series. From the first pitch
to the last. Without being under house arrest. I had a stopwatch,
a notepad and a VCR. The Yankees won 4-0. This is what I saw.
Close-ups of Yankees manager Joe Torre: 66.
Close-ups of Torre staring straight ahead: 28.
October 15, 2000
Close-ups of Torre spitting: 3.
Close-ups of Torre nodding: 2.
Close-ups of Torre spitting and nodding: 1.
Close-ups of Torre wiping his nose: 1.
Close-ups of Torre having a notion to pick his nose but thinking
better of it: 1.
Close-ups of Torre burping: 2.
Close-ups of Torre adjusting his hat: 2.
Close-ups of Torre staring at the ground, muttering to coach Don
Zimmer, staring at his coffee cup, sipping from a water bottle
or--can you stand the tension!--talking on the dugout phone: 26.
Close-ups of others adjusting their hats or helmets: 64.
Close-ups of others adjusting their groins: Slightly more than
your average four-hour Limp Bizkit concert.
Close-ups of others spitting, including umpires: 53.
Close-ups of Yankees bench warmer Jose Canseco, who doesn't
actually play the game anymore: 7.
Close-ups of Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who wasn't
in the game either, digging in his ear in the manner of a
flophouse beagle: 1.
Activity I wished I were doing instead of watching baseball on
TV: Milking sick yaks in Tibet.
Total replays: 83.
Replays of batters swinging and missing: 9.
Replays of batters not swinging: 19.
Shots of nobody warming up in the A's bullpen: 1.
Number of exciting shots of this sort that could be shown to
feeble-hearted nonagenarians without any risk of endangering
Number of replays you'd have time to show of one play in an NFL
game, even if a wide receiver was hit going up for a pass and
spit out his pancreas into a nearby tuba: 3.
Minutes to play the first half-inning: 18.
Hours the average game would take if every half-inning took that
long: 5 1/2.
Times Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez stepped out of the box
and took four or five practice swings: every freaking pitch.
What you'd do if you were playing golf with Martinez and he did
that before every shot: Shackle yourself to a golf cart and drive
to the bottom of a water hazard.
Time of the average regular-season game in baseball this season:
Increase over two seasons ago: nine minutes.
Time of average playoff game this year: 3:28.
Number of kids I've heard of, 18 and under, who watch baseball on
Percentage of boys who'd rather the coolest kid in school see
them with their mom in JCPenney's lingerie section than watch
baseball on TV: 99.
Number of generations baseball is losing by playing games too
slow too late at night: at least one, going on two.
Time of this A's-Yankees game: 3 hours, 15 minutes.
Time the baseball was actually in play, including pitches, batted
balls, foul balls, pickoff attempts, relays, throws to bases and
anything else even Bob Costas might consider actual sporting
activity (and I was being generous with the stopwatch): 12
minutes, 22 seconds.
Percentage of time that the ball wasn't in play: 94.
Percentage of time my cerebrum wasn't in play: 94.
Number of baseball players crushed by unexpected fiery chunk of
Planet Zorbig hurtling to earth: Not nearly enough.
Times I plan on watching baseball on TV ever again: 0.
I rank watching baseball on TV just below fungus sculpture and
the new 12-part PBS documentary on gout.