Tag Archives: Hunter Pence

Pace of Play Shows Nothing Gold Can Stay

When I was a senior in high school I had to memorize the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” as part of an English assignment.

Whenever I am dealt setbacks, or encounter things that make no sense to me logically, I often think of that poem and its message of the inability of golden things to last forever and the inevitable decay that takes their place.

I was reminded of that poem the other day when I read a story about a lake near Boulder, Colorado that contained thousands of goldfish.

Now before you bemoan the fact that your local swimming hole is not filled with thousands of goldfish, rest assured that goldfish are not native to Colorado either.

It seems that at some point someone put a few pet goldfish into the lake and over time those goldfish begat more goldfish which ushered in the circle of life that the animated lion and his friends sang about.

An unknown number of pet goldfish were placed in a Boulder, Colorado lake and have now swarmed to a school of thousands. Photo R. Anderson
An unknown number of pet goldfish like these were placed in a Boulder, Colorado lake and have now swarmed to a school of thousands.
Photo R. Anderson

As well intentioned as the person, or persons, were when they added the goldfish to the lake, the resulting swell in goldfish population has led Colorado wildlife officials on a search for a way to remove the invasive species.

Most likely the remediation plan will result in the death of the goldfish either through draining of the lake or electroshock since someone has determined that while goldfish have a place in man-made aquariums they do not belong in a man-made lake.

That’s right the entire lake is invasive itself if one really stops to think about it.

Personally I think the people of Boulder are sitting on a gold mine and missing a golden opportunity. I mean how many other towns can say that they have a huge goldfish pond?

I would leave the goldfish where they are and promote the lake as a golden pond where people young and old can come and see goldfish that have grown much larger than they would have grown were they swimming around in a little fish bowl.

But sometimes people fail to see the gold that is in front of them and instead bring on the decay by invoking change when no change is needed.

Take for example the efforts to speed up the game of baseball.

For the past 10 seasons or so the average length of a Major League Baseball game has increased. Last season the average duration of a nine-inning baseball game clocked in at a record 3 hours, 2 minutes, up from 2 hours and 33 minutes in 1981.

As such, Major League Baseball is seeking to shorten the game through pace of play initiatives such as requiring a batter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box at all times.

Players who step out of the batter’s box will be fined since they are lengthening the game by taking too much time between pitches.

Personally I do not think that batters stepping out of the box is a bad thing and often enjoy some of the comical routines that players do between pitches.

Former Houston Astro Hunter Pence was an especially fun player to watch in the batter's box since he took his batting helmet off between pitches and rubbed it on his elbow each time without fail. photo/R. Anderson
Former Houston Astro Hunter Pence was an especially fun player to watch in the batter’s box since he took his batting helmet off between pitches and rubbed it on his elbow each time without fail.
photo/R. Anderson

Hunter Pence was especially fun to watch when he was with the Houston Astros since he took his batting helmet off between pitches and rubbed it on his elbow each time without fail.

If I were going to change something about the game to make it go faster, I would limit the number of pitching changes that were allowed.

The trend of pitching specialists who only face a single batter is ludicrous and is the real reason games are longer.

Unless an injury replacement is needed teams should be limited to no more than four pitchers in a nine-inning game.

Additional pitchers could be used in an extra inning game but I see few reasons why a team cannot field a competitive nine-inning game with four pitchers.

Speaking of pitchers, another time saving innovation in the pipeline is a pitch clock where pitchers have a set amount of time to pitch. Go over the pitch clock and the batter is awarded a ball.

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball was the first to use a pitch clock last year and this year pitch clocks have made their way into affiliated Triple-A and Double-A Minor League Baseball Ballparks.

Under the pace of play rules Minor League pitchers have 2 minutes and 25 seconds to begin their windup or come to set between innings, and 20 seconds between pitches.

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball was the first to use a pitch clock when the Sugar Land Skeeters and other teams implemented it last year. Photo R. Anderson
The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball was the first to use a pitch clock when the Sugar Land Skeeters and other teams implemented it last year.
Photo R. Anderson

Part of the beauty of baseball that is getting lost in all of this is that baseball is the only professional sport without a game clock of any kind.

The action is controlled by the number of outs, not the number of seconds.

I see no reason to change that.

As for some other sports that do have clocks, they are close to the length of a baseball game and do not offer any more on field action.

In 2010 the Wall Street Journal conducted a study on the amount of action in a National Football League game and discovered that 11 minutes of the average NFL game can be considered action.

For the purpose of the study action was considered the time that the ball was snapped until the play was whistled dead by the referees.

While listening to people shout “Omaha, hut, hut” can be fun, it was not listed in the action category.

By comparison the Wall Street Journal determined that a fan will see 17 minutes and 58 seconds of action over the course of a three-hour MLB game.

Items considered action as part of the Journal’s study included balls in play, runner advancement attempts on stolen bases, wild pitches, pitches, home run trots, walks and hit-by-pitches, and pickoff throws.

With the average MLB ticket price far below the average NFL ticket price it is clear that baseball offers fans much more bang for their buck and nearly eight more minutes of action.

If something is not broken there is no need to tinker with the formula.

And if someone does not have the attention span to sit through a three-hour baseball game, no amount of tinkering can fix that.

Koi are common in fish ponds, pet goldfish not so much. Photo R. Anderson
Koi are common in fish ponds, pet goldfish not so much.
Photo R. Anderson

Instead, continued tinkering will likely alienate long term fans.

Just as the Colorado goldfish should be left to swim out their days in peace, the game of baseball should be left to unfold as it has for the past century or so without adding a pitch clock or whatever other effort is proposed in the name of time saving.

But of course as Robert Frost taught me all those years ago in Mrs. Phillips’ English class, nothing gold can stay.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it is time to feed my fish.

Copyright 2015 R. Anderson

Many Situations in Life Would be Better with Walk up Music

Go to any baseball game from Little League to Major League, and odds are that when a batter is coming up to the plate they will be serenaded by walk up music.

The type of walk up music selected varies depending on the player. Players often alternate their walk up music between the guitar driven hair band standards as well as pop music depending on their moods. Other players may even select country music or hip hop for their walk up theme.

One of the best players for walk up music that I have seen in person was former Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence.

For one whole season Pence walked up to the sounds of Katy Perry’s California Girls proving that sometimes walk up music, like baseball, should just be fun.

Former Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence took walk up music to the extreme a few years back when he chose Katy Perry's "California Girls" as his go to jam. Photo R. Anderson
Former Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence took walk up music to the extreme a few years back when he chose Katy Perry’s “California Girls” as his go to jam.
Photo R. Anderson

Whether the music selected is hard rockin’ or bubble gum poppin’ it serves a key purpose when it comes to the battle between the pitcher and the batter.

Or as Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh from Bull Durham would say the players use the music to “Announce their presence with authority.”

Granted it would be hard for a batter to announce their presence with authority by walking out to the pop styling of Carley Rae Jepson but it could be a good call maybe if it made the pitcher laugh so hard that he couldn’t throw a strike.

While there is not an exact Archimedes stepping into the tub and shouting “Eureka” moment when it comes to the invention of walk up music, most baseball people point to the 1993 Seattle Mariners as the fathers of the walkup.

While certain individual players had used walk up music before, the Mariners were the first team to come up with a song for each of their players in the lineup.

It seems fitting that the city that brought flannel and grunge to the world of music would also be the city to bring music to the batter’s box.

While the Seattle Mariners are one of only two teams to never appear in a World Series they can at least lay claim to being the champions of the walk up.

In 1993 the city that brought the world grunge music brought walk up music to Major League Baseball when the Seattle Mariners became the first MLB team to have walk up music throughout their lineup. Photo R. Anderson
In 1993 the city that brought the world grunge music brought walk up music to Major League Baseball when the Seattle Mariners became the first MLB team to have walk up music throughout their lineup.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course theme music is not limited to batters. Pitchers, especially closers, have also gotten into the act of having music introduce them.

Retired New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera famously walked out from the bullpen to the sounds of “Enter Sandman” from Metallica.

And of course who can forget Charlie Sheen as Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn walking out to “Wild Thing” in the Major League franchise. The cinematic walk up music predates the Mariners walk up trend by about five years and is also often pointed to as being instrumental in the evolution of walk up music.

As with everything there are rules to the walk up music. The songs chosen need to be family friendly and the music is supposed to stop once the player enters the batter’s box.

Of course a really good walk up song can lead to players lollygagging their way to the batter’s box to hear more of their “theme” before facing the pitcher.

While mostly found within the confines of a Ballpark sometimes walk up music occurs beyond the bleachers.

The other day while eating lunch at a local Cajun inspired chicken restaurant named after a spinach loving cartoon sailor I experienced my own version of the walk up music.

I had just gotten up from my table when the perennial theme for the underdog Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky started playing.

As I walked to throw away my trash there was an extra spring in my step as the music blared, (bop, bop bop bop, bop bop bop).

Heading to refill my iced tea the music continued as I found myself filling the tea more forcefully than usual (bop, bop bop bop, bop bop bop).

As I left the restaurant humming along to the song I was inspired to tackle the day with vigor as I headed out to my car.

Of course while the music may have inspired me to find the nearest outdoor flight of stairs to run up while air boxing, I was reminded that I had just eaten lunch and should probably wait at least 30 minutes before jogging and air boxing.

Still, the musical interlude got me thinking about why it is that only baseball players should get walk up music.

Just think how much more exciting life could be if all of our big moments were preceded by music.

Just picture the boardroom scenario where someone says the following. “Now up to present the quarterly earnings report, Joe Smith” (cue the music).

After a few bars of (insert song here) Joe knocks the earnings report out of the park while his coworkers serenade him with Queen’s “We are the Champions” and fist bump each other on the way out of the conference room.

Of course different situations in life would require different music.

While some situations might call for some Pearl Jam, others may require heavy organ sounds of Bach.

Pearl Jam and Walk up music are two Seattle originals still going strong for over two decades and counting. Photo R. Anderson
Pearl Jam and Walk up music are two Seattle originals still going strong for over two decades and counting.
Photo R. Anderson

There will even be situations where one might take the Hunter Pence route and walk up to a situation with some pop music even going so far as nodding their heads like yeah.

With the invention of large capacity MP3 players it would be very easy to carry around all of the possible walk up music one would need for any situation.

Just cue up the appropriate song for whatever situation comes up and one is ready for anything that life throws their way.

The trick would be the trial and error of finding a truly unique walk up song since not everyone can walk out to “Enter Sandman.”

While it is unlikely that the walk up song idea outside of the Ballpark will catch on any time soon it is certainly something to think about the next time one is listening to the radio, or filling out that dreaded TPS Report.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some walk up music songs to pick out for my next big event right after I put the new cover page on this report.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson