Mystery of the Missing 42 Minutes in Baseball

Watching Rangers baseball on tv.  Guess it’s also Yankees baseball, but not from our perspective down here in Texas.  Just Rangers baseball, and the Rangers have made Rangers history… finally.  They’re in the playoffs, and here we are in game 4 of a series with the Yankees.  It’s been a long time since I watched much baseball.  It’s nerve-wracking, like any sport can be when you want your team to win.

I have a couple of observations about baseball in general.  First of all, it is one long-ass game, and second, much spitting is involved.  Spitting must be required, or at least recommended, or in the alternative, gum chewing.  Woe be to the poor guy who can’t summon up so much saliva, or who doesn’t like chewing tobacco and/or has TMJ and can’t chew gum.  It’s obvious that some of these guys are chewing tobacco, such a lovely hue to their spittle.  I don’t notice near as much spitting or chewing in other sports.  Does it somehow make them better ball players, because dang me, these guys are really good.  Or, is it just a habit,  a nervous thing, chew or spit, chew or spit, because they have nothing much else to do?

Seriously, the other day I heard about a study of pro baseball games.  The study supposedly proved that there is an average of only 14 minutes of live action in a pro baseball game, and for the record, apparently that is 3 more minutes of live action than in an average pro football game.  So, for all of you out there who think football is so much more exciting and has more action than baseball, think again.  Three minutes less, my friends.

Let’s see what makes up the rest of those 3-plus hours (using my own methods of scientific time measurement)…

  • Spitting or gum-chewing, there has to be at least 14 minutes of spitting or chewing gum/occasional bubble-blowing (Edit – Actually there is much more spitting and gum chewing, there is at least 180 minutes of spitting and gum chewing, but only 14 minutes televised specifically for our viewing pleasure)
  • Scratching and/or repositioning the twins, good for at least 10 minutes
  • Waiting for the pitcher to psyche himself up to pitch, this takes half an hour at least
  • Standing around sizing up the opponents, good for another half an hour
  • Breaks between innings, maybe 40 minutes

14 minutes of action, plus 14 minutes of spitting, 10 minutes of scratching, 30 minutes of psyching, 30 minutes of sizing up, and 40 minutes of breaks between innings adds up to 138 minutes, still 42 minutes shy of the 180-plus minutes in an average game.

I don’t know WHAT they do for the remaining 42 minutes, but by the way, Rangers are ahead 7-3 in the 8th inning.  It’s not over yet, though.  Yankees just loaded the bases.  Come on, Rangers!

…and don’t bother telling me if I got my math wrong.

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Select, Salivate, Read and Savor

I am an excellent reader. When I can’t think of what to write, then I just fuhgeddaboudit and read a book instead. I’ve actually become a bit of a book snob. Not snobby in the sense that I can only read “literature” or best sellers, or award winners, or that I even know what I’m talking about when it comes to books. No, I’m just snobby in the sense that I try only to select books that really interest me, because I find that reading for pleasure is still an effort for me.

I love to read, but it’s an effort? Sounds like a contradiction, so let me explain. I’m not the kind of person that sits down and reads for hours until I finish a book in the wee hours of the morning. I might as well just pop a sleeping pill and go to bed. There are few books that could truly keep me awake if I was tired, and I am always tired. I read in spurts, chapters here and there, always anxious about the next short block of time I can carve out just for reading. I sometimes read during my lunch hour, in the car at soccer practice, or before I go to bed at night. My progression through a book is a little like watching a soap opera, except that unlike watching soaps, eventually I do finish the stories.

This technique is known in scientific circles as SSRS. That’s no BS, truly. You can tell that’s no BS because there are no vowels in either SSRS or BS, so it must be true. It goes like this – SSRS – select, salivate (um, figuratively), read, and savor. After going through this process, then I rush to the book shelf to start over… SSRS. So exciting! Yeah, I really don’t get out so much…

It sounds hokey, but to me reading a book is a little like opening a door and stepping into a different reality … what’s behind door number one? Number two? Lots of little doors I have opened this year so far, fourteen to be exact. A modest accomplishment for some people, but I’m pretty sure it’s a record for me, and it’s still just October.

I try to finish every single book I start, so I definitely don’t want to select a stinker because I will feel compelled to read it anyway. After all, someone spent a year to write the dang thing, I should at least be willing to spend a few hours a week to read it. Not sure why I’m like that, maybe I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings. Only a couple of times in my entire life have I started a book (meaning, a novel) that I didn’t finish, and deep down I felt a little guilty when I closed those books and decided to put them back on the shelf. One of the books was as dull as dry toast. I don’t remember a thing about it except reading words for about ten pages and suddenly thinking, I am reading this book but the story is missing. Then skipping back a few pages and trying to find the story. Forward ho again for twenty more pages, and then, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’m so sorry, nameless author, I couldn’t finish your nameless storyless book. The other one, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Definitely a story here, but I couldn’t get past the first five pages. I attempted it because it is my friend Carrie’s favorite book (or one of them) and, of course, it’s a classic. I enjoy classic literature sometimes, but this one is more difficult than most. Either that, or I am not such an excellent reader after all. Or maybe I wasn’t in the mood to think so deeply.  Whatever, that book is a bi-atch! It still sits on my shelf, daring me to pick it up, and I will… someday.

So, check out the books I’ve read on the Just Books tab, if you wish. That tab holds a few of my excuses for not writing regular posts for my blog. There are about a million other excuses why I don’t post regularly, but that’s another blog post. Still, my blog tugs at me from time to time, when I ignore it for weeks on end. It is like a living being begging me for attention, not so different from Zoe bringing me a smelly sock. Write me, it says. No, I’m reading, I say. Then bite me, it says, but I just can’t listen to such negativity.