By Bill Arnold and Rick Wacha
IT’S ABOUT TIME
The average time of a nine-inning game in the majors has jumped to three hours and five minutes in 2019 from three hours and 44 seconds minutes in 2018 through Thursday. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has continued to implement new suggestions to speed up games that include: not requiring four pitches be thrown for an intentional walk, limiting pitching changes, capping mound visits and speeding up the replay process. Unfortunately, nothing has seemed to change the slow pace of the game. These and other possibilities will be addressed during the Winter Meetings. However, any new ideas could provide added tension toward the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement between the MLB and the MLB Players Association. The old agreement expires after the 2020 season. Only four teams: the San Francisco Giants, the Oakland A’s, the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays were barley averaging nine-inning game times less than three hours. The Giants were averaging the fastest nine-inning games that average two hours and 57 minutes. The Boston Red Sox were averaging the longest nine-inning contests at three hours and 21 minutes. The Los Angeles Angels have the dubious distinction this season of hosting three extra-inning games that have lasted an average of five hours and 12 minutes. The long games were inflated, in part, by three of the four home extra-inning games which required 14, 15 and 16 innings. The chart below lists American and National League teams by the average time for nine-inning home games, extra-inning home games and the number of home games teams played for each. At the bottom of the chart is the Major-League average for home nine-inning and home extra-inning games (time listed as hours, minutes and seconds; all times through Thursday):
|Team||Games||Avg time||Games||Avg time|
|Team||Games||Avg time||Games||Avg time|
|MLB||9-inning Games||Avg time||Extra Inning Games||Avg time|
CAP OF HAIR
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have invented a baseball cap that will help promote the hair growth in balding men. The cap has a one millimeter patch inside that sends small amounts of electricity to the scalp, which supposedly stimulates hair growth. The patch worked more effectively than hair growth drugs without any side effects. The cap was tested on a researcher’s father and did promote hair growth within a month. They also applied the hair-growth cap on test mice and again found it promoted their hair growth. Researchers also said that the electrical impulses from the patch are very gentle and should provide no discomfort to the wearer.
AROUND THE HORN
… On Wednesday night the season’s 216th ejection occurred as umpire Sam Holbrook tossed Mariners’ manager Scott Servais for arguing a strike one call on M’s batter J.P. Crawford in the seventh inning against the visiting Astros; that’s the most ejections in a season since 2006 when 218 were ejected.
… ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes that 24 teams have hit 200 or more home runs this season, but since major-league baseball began in 1876 through the 1990 season only 22 teams had crested 200 home runs in a season; from 1876-84 teams played less than 100 games, from 1884-1903 games played slowly increased, from 1904-60 teams played 154 games and in 1961 the current 162-game schedule debuted.
… This is the last weekend that Globe Life Park will host the Rangers, which has been the team’s home since 1994; through Thursday the Rangers had played 2,078 at the stadium going 1,142-996; the Rangers are joining the Braves as the only teams to have had a stadium built for their use in 1990s to already replace them with newer parks.
… The Giants set a new team record when they played their fourth extra-inning game of the season of at least 15 innings when they lost to the Rockies in 16 on Tuesday night; earlier this season they also played games of 18, 16 and 15 innings.
… Terry Francona, the Indians manager, has the longest active string of consecutive winning seasons, 15 (8 with Red Sox and 7 with Indians), of any manager since Bobby Cox had a 15-season stretch while leading the Braves from 1991 to 2005; Joe McCarthy owns the record with a stretch of 24 consecutive winning seasons from 1926 to 1950 while managing the Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox from 1926 to 1950.
… The major-league strikeout record was broken for the 12th straight year when the Rays’ Willy Adames was whiffed by the Yankees’ Stephen Tarpley in the bottom of the fifth inning for the 41,208th strikeout of the season on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field; after Thursday’s games the season total stood at 4,985.
… The Astros have a very real chance of becoming the first team to sweep the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY) awards; the team has the leading A.L. MVP candidate – Alex Bregman, the two leading Cy Young award candidates – Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole and the leading ROY candidate – Yordan Alvarez.
… The St. Paul Saints and the Madison Mallards were the only two independent league teams to crack the top-30 in minor-league attendance per game average this season; the Saints drew an average of 7,900 fans to see them play in 49 American Association home games while the Mallards averaged 6,080 faithful to see them play in 36 home games in the Northwoods League.
… On Tuesday night both Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey homered for the Giants, which was the third time the duo has gone deep in the same game, which ties them with the Dodgers’ Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella and the A’s John “Blue Moon” Odom and Gene Tenace for most games homered in by batterymates.
… The Twins (99) and Braves Braves (97) and are trying to become the fourth (and fifth) team(s) to win 100 games this season joining the Astros (104), Yankees (102) and Dodgers (102); should either team reach 100 wins it would be the first time in major-league history that four teams have won at least 100 games in a season.
… According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle Cardinals’ outfielder Dexter Fowler struck out a combined nine times against the host Diamondbacks during games on Monday and Tuesday; Hall of Famer Stan Musial struck out just 18 times during the entire 1943 season, when the Cardinal legend led the N.L. with 700 plate appearances, 220 hits, 48 doubles, 20 triples and a .357 batting average.
… Whit Merrifield is trying to join Kirby Puckett (1988-89) as the only right-handed batters to lead the majors in hits in consecutive seasons; the Royal outfielder led the bigs last season with 192 knocks and already has the MLB lead with 201 through Thursday.
… Saturday marks the 78th anniversary of Ted Williams of the Red Sox going 6-for-8 in a season-ending doubleheader in 1941 to lift his .39955 batting average to .40570 and becoming the last player to bat .400 in a season.
… On Tuesday night Mike Clevinger joined fellow Indian pitchers Addie Joss (1908-09 – then the Naps), Bob Lemon (1946-48) and (1950) and Guy “Moose” Morton (1915-16) in winning eight-straight road games; Joss and Lemon own the Indians’ franchise record with 11-straight road wins.
… The Twins’ Nelson Cruz became the 96th player in major-league history to reach 400 career home runs when he connected for the milestone against the visiting Royals on Sept. 22.
… The warm-up music played for the Angels’ closer Hansel Robles is the same as the entrance music for the WWE’s wrestler Mark William Calaway – a.k.a. “The Undertaker.”
… The Rockies and Giants set a major-league record by combining to use 25 pitchers in their 16-inning game on Tuesday night in San Francisco; next season such a record could never be set since rosters will be limited in September to 28 players instead of the current number that allows up to 40 active rostered players in September; the number of pitchers allowed on rosters next September has yet to be negotiated.
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