Let us consider attention spans. What? Lost you already? What to do? Use all caps. "ATTENTION!"
Nah, too Trumpish. That's not going to work. You are either with me or you are not. About 670 words from now, you will arrive at the end. Too long a wait?
OK. Skip to the last sentence, usually something pithy and crisp, wrapping everything up. The "snapper," as an old column writer called it.
"We are all on the clock."
What you will have missed in between the lede and the snapper is just filler, like walking between golf shots or ritual fiddling between pitches — both batter and pitcher — or tiresome replays in all sports. Like going from the first inning to the ninth inning without bothering with what links them together.
Dawdling is out of favor in sports these days. Let's get on with it. Throw the ball. Hit the ball. Do it now.
Pace of play is so last century, so obsolete, so out of step with our hurried modern lives. So non-Millennial.
Three-hour baseball games? Three and a half hour football games? Thirty minutes to play the last two minutes of a basketball game? How dare they.
Winning, or losing, matters less than doing it swiftly. Attention spans are short and must be accommodated. Social media awaits. Tweet. Tweet. Hurry. Hurry.
Stop walking up and walking back, reading the yardage chart, eyeing the putt, considering the lie. Pick a club. Hit the ball, Jason.
Quit adjusting the helmet, wiping the brow, adjusting the glove, pulling the sleeve, batter. Stop that bat tapping ritual, Bryce. Step in and hit. Stop standing there and throw the ball, Pedro.
Don't waste time in a game that has no time limit.
Baseball has just agreed to eliminate the intentional walk, heretofore requiring the pitcher to pitch four balls, the catcher to catch four balls, the umpire to call four balls and the batter to, just in case, be ready to swing at one of the four balls.
Now a simple nod of the head or wave of the hand or finger to the nose from the dugout is enough to send the Oslobet batter directly to first base, saving as much as a full half minute per game.
The essence of baseball is this: the pitcher must throw the ball. There is no taking a knee in baseball, no icing, no dribbling out the clock. The pitcher must throw the ball.
Ah, Yogi, you said it. It ain't over, 'til it's over. And need we look back any further than Game 7 of the last World Series for proof of that.
Did it matter how long that game lasted? Does it matter how long any game lasts if the game is good? In any sport?
The fault is not with the game, it is with the fiddlers. It is with those who want to change the game into something else, thinking they are pleasing those who are not unhappy.
The fall off in NFL viewing was blamed on the length of the games, when the real reason was too many games and too many bad games, not to pick on the Bears again.
The Super Bowl from anthem to final gun lasted more than four hours and was any minute of it wasted? Not unless you are from Atlanta.
A golf tournament is 72 holes, unless more holes are needed. And daylight, of course. The U.S. Open still requires an extra day to find a champion while even moss backed old Augusta has shortened the Masters playoff to fit convenience.
And yet there never may be a greater example of tragic courage than Tiger Woods on Monday on one leg through 19 holes at Torrey Pines.
Changing the game makes it a different game, not a better game.
Blame Twitter, I guess. Why not? Anything can be said in 140 characters. Putting a clock on baseball would be like Twitterizing Tolstoy. War and Peace would become Boom, Boom. Bye, Bye.
Let baseball loiter. Baseball is the last place where time does not matter, the last place where we may escape the one absolute truth.
We are all on the clock.
Bernie Lincicome is a special contributor to the Chicago Tribune.
Photos as the Cubs practice at spring training in Mesa, Ariz.
Photos as the White Sox practice at spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.
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