I lied. The train that is ramming right into Commissioner Rob Manfred’s blockade of pace-of-play crusade has already started, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. In the four games since that fateful day which brought new uniforms for Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips, the games have lasted 4:33, 4:09, 3:49, and 4:38, for an average of 4:17 a game. I cheated a little, of course, as two of these games went to extra innings, but still, you can expect at least three-and-a-half hours of Angels baseball for the last month of the season.
But the factors which caused the past four games to run long appear to be easily identifiable, and they aren’t going to go away anytime soon.
When the Angels added Upton and Phillips, they lengthened a lineup that includes an ultimate megastar and smile-a-thon winner with a 1.125 OPS, a slugger who can’t run, a lion from a Disney movie, a guy who has as much glove as he doesn’t soul (.939 OPS in his last 28 days), the fool who bat flips everything, a Suns’ season ticket holder, and a catcher who, upon being abused, decides to just launch two rockets off his bat.
These guys are all hitting really well, by the way. Offense is time-consuming, man. You get a guy on first and all of a sudden the pitcher is throwing over twice every at-bat, even when the runner is standing on the base. The more runs you score, the more pitching changes, and all of that takes time. And there’s nothing you can do about it, because you want to score, and this offense is built to score oodles and oodles of runs.
And they will. I remarked today that I felt really bad about Jeff Banister and lack of any quality bullpen arms that he had to bring out of the pen, and then I remembered Bob Melvin. When no one has anything and the Angels keep hammering the baseball, there’s nothing you can do but keep making the long, slow walk to the mound.
The rest of the season features 6 games against the Mariners, whose pitching struggles have been well-documented, 2 against the aforementioned A’s, 3 against the Rangers, 4 against the White Sox (they’re 54-82, how good can their pitching really be?), 3 against the Astros (whose pen features Tyler Clippard and his 2.085 OPS-against the Angels in 5 games this year), and 3 games against the Indians (ignore them for the purposes of my narrative). These are some terrible staffs, and we’re going to get a lot of opportunities to cross home plate.
But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. It doesn’t matter how many runs his team scored; if Mark Buehrle took the mound, you knew the game was over in 3 hours. The Angels do not have Mark Buehrle. They have some combination of starters who are “rehabbing in the majors” (Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards) - Victor Rojas, dumpster dive finds that are probably regressing to the mean (Parker Bridwell, Blake Parker, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, Jesse Chavez), and a bunch of people you wonder why they’re on a major league roster (Jose Alvarez, Ricky Nolasco, Keynan Middleton, Fernando Salas...). These guys aren’t that good. Ergo, they give up a lot of runs, causing Nagy and Scioscia to walk to the mound a lot, upping the time.
With the calendar flipping to September, Mike Scioscia now has about 34 guys at his disposal, and you’re wrong if you don’t think he’s going to try to go 34 deep. He managed to get 12 pitchers into yesterday’s win over the A’s, and he told Jeff Fletcher of the OCR that he would’ve steamrolled into 13 or 14 and wouldn’t even have blinked an eye. That Cubs-Dodgers inning last postseason that took an hour? Mike Scioscia will try to top that.
What to Do
There isn’t much you can do. If you, like me, find yourself continually entranced by the Team of Destiny, you have to just wait it out. But there are some suggestions for you to avoid falling asleep on your couch (I did this Sunday, and at least one other user has confessed to the same):
Exercise: Does seeing Mike Scioscia inspire you to lose some weight? If so, the lengthened Angel games are perfect for you to start working out. Create a workout cycle that will take about two innings, so you can have the third to rest. Examples include curlups, pushups, the plank, wall squats, or even just stretching. Bonus: hooking up a TV to your treadmill or taking your laptop there will let you jog while you watch Mike Scioscia call for Fernando Salas!
Okay, maybe that might just make you want to throw up your last meal.
Read A Song of Ice and Fire: Have you watched Game of Thrones but want to see from where the source material all came? Have you been to the library to check out the books, then balked when you realized how big they were? Do you not know anything about the series but cringe every time your friends mention it? Now, there’s a solution! Audiobooks! I knew I’d never be able to commit enough time to seriously reading, so when I realized I had to drive about 80 minutes both ways for my summer internship, I jumped at the opportunity to crack open the audiobooks, and I knocked two of the books out of the way. The first book is about 32 hours, and if the Angels take 4 hours a game, you’ll be done in just over a week!
Just watch the game in mute. I mean, do you really need to hear the Oakland drums or the drunk fans yelling?
Learn a skill: Have you ever wanted to do something, but never had the time? Maybe it’s playing the guitar, maybe it’s juggling, or maybe it’s learning how to fidget-spin. Well, nowadays, all the resources are at your fingertips. There are so many YouTube videos out there that can teach you what you need to know. Just prop open your computer next to the TV and start learning! You’ll have plenty of time. As a bonus, if you learn the guitar (or the keyboard for that matter), you can learn “Sweet Caroline” for Boston or “Uptown Girl” for whenever Upton hits a home run.
Sleep: Yes, apparently it’s the thing nowadays to sleep while the Angels are on TV.
Compare the players to characters in your favorite reality TV shows: Yunel Escobar with his antics on the field? Definitely the latest diva in The Bachelorette. Albert Pujols can’t run because of foot injuries? Sounds like James Hinchcliffe, who suffered severe foot injuries on the racetrack and nearly lost his life before returning to Dancing With the Stars
(yes, he should have won, and yes, I am still salty about that). Luis Valbuena always doing those crazy bat flips? Maybe he’s the new star of The Voice who mic-drops every time he performs because he knows he executed a great performance.
All in all, with the extended times of Angel games, there are plenty of options for you to take. Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter what you do, or even that you take your focus even slightly off the team of the field. They’re the Team of Destiny. They’ll keep chugging along no matter what you do. Although maybe you should keep your schedule clean for that game when they clinch the World Series victory.
What is your go-to option during the game?
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Learn a skill