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America's national pastime

The pitcher stands on the mound. The catcher, acknowledged team leader, has made a study of every hitter on the other team. He flashes a signal, but wait! The pitcher shakes his head.

Good grief! They are having a pantomime argument while thousands of fans wait. Another signal, but the pitcher still thinks he knows better. This 23-year-old kid who has just gotten up from his nap in the bullpen thinks he knows more than the wily veteran behind the plate.

Finally, he accepts a signal and prepares to throw. However, first he has to spit. So many of these ball players seem to be sick. Maybe they should wear heavier clothing at those chilly night games?

Now he has to adjust his pants. Somebody should tell him about Hanes underwear. He pulls on the peak of his cap and then wipes off the ball. It is a new ball, for crying out loud. It is already clean!

OK. Finally, he is ready and takes the huggy stance, ball and glove pressed to his chest. The batter immediately steps out of the batter’s box. Quick! Throw it! Throw it! He’s not ready! You can get an easy strike! Oh. Wait. It seems the batter gets an automatic time out when he does this.

Now the batter takes care of a bit of housekeeping. It seems he has some dirt caught in his shoes and must tap it out with his bat. Didn’t he notice this before he got up to bat? We’ll wait.

He steps up to the plate. The pitcher wants to get even. He steps off the rubber and readjusts his hat, and everything else. He picks up some dirt and rubs it on his hands. Now I see how the ball gets dirty. We’ll wait while he cleans the ball... again.

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Here is one place that golf got it right. They set the ball on a little holder and whack it into play. No fuss. No muss. The game is on.  

And think of the savings. You can eliminate all of those expensive prima donna pitchers, many of whom are only good for one or two innings. The game would move right along. Everybody could go home a little earlier at night games and workers would show up the next morning rested.

Of course some of them could be cat-napping during the game. Why else would you need to stretch at the seventh inning?

When cartoon character Homer Simpson took a temporary break from his Duff Beer, he was appalled at the reality of the slow pace of baseball. So, quite frankly, am I.

Maybe this is why they call it America’s national pass-time?

Bill Abrams lives in Pine Plains.

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