Other Voices: Blame it on Velcro

On Sept. 28, 1919, the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 in a game that lasted 51 minutes – a record for a nine-inning game that has stood the test of time for 99 years.

Baseball’s longest single inning tick-tocked at 1 hour, 8 minutes on May 8, 2004, between the Tigers and Rangers, 17 minutes longer than baseball’s shortest nine-inning game.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” and it wasn’t for 4 hours, 45 minutes on Aug. 18, 2006, between the Yankees and Red Sox, the longest nine-inning game in Major League Baseball history.

Who knew the slowdown of the national pastime could be directly traced back to Swiss engineer George de Mestral. In the mid-1950s, he invented Velcro, a mashup of the French words for “velour” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook).

MLB’s advanced media research shows that Generation X, Y and Zers are turned off by the slothlike pace of play not fitting into their nanosecond-attention lifestyles.

Baseball’s time bandits are well-known:

• Relievers can toss eight warm-up pitches after throwing 40 or more in the bullpen. It’s not like they haven’t seen a Major League mound before. Batter up!

• Teams run every vapid video board feature, kiss cam, wedding proposal cam, I-can’t-dance cam, exit velocity cam, launch angle cam and cam cam, where you take a selfie and email it to the video screen.

• Commercials in between innings. They pay the bills.

• The pitching coach visits to the mound to chat about the meaning of life and to ask the catcher and infielders quantum physics trivia questions.

• Scoreboard reviews of exit velocity speeds, launch angles and some other form of analytic anomie.

• The tortoise walk from the bullpen to the mound and the mound to the showers.

If Major League Baseball is truly committed to speeding up the game, then just ban Velcro!

The majority of major-leaguers wear batting gloves. You see them constantly stepping out of the batter’s box fidgeting with the Velcro fastening straps around the wrists of their stylish gloves. Seems like team analytic quants have suggested a maximum tightening pressure of 121 pounds per digit.

Velcro fastening straps have attached themselves to every manner of body armor devices for batters’ elbows, hands, wrists, thumbs, knees, shins, feet and toes, making hitters look more like catchers, hockey goalies or weekend jousters at a local Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

The sounds of baseball used to be the crack of the bat, the horsehide thwacking into a leather catcher’s mitt, umpires yelling, ‘Yer Out!’ – not the infernal ripping and tearing, cloth-curdling opening and closing of Velcroed batting gloves. Can you imagine if some audio nitwit started piping the sound of Velcro through the speakers at your favorite ball yard? Worse than fingernails on a blackboard.

Hall of famer, three-time American League MVP, 10-time World Series champion Yogi “Bare-Handed” Berra had this to say about Velcro’s negative effect on baseball before he passed away in 2015: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Andy Dolich operates Dolich & Associates, a sports consultancy in Los Altos.

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