A strange thing happened on Tuesday night in Detroit during a game between the Indians and Tigers. During the 8th and 9th innings Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt fell victim to one of baseball's oddest rules:
That this series carries some extra juice was evident in the bottom of the eighth inning when Wedge charged out onto the field and argued with the umpiring crew after a ball was called on Tribe reliever Rafael Betancourt for not delivering a pitch within 12 seconds (after he receives the ball and with the batter in the batter's box) when nobody is on base. It's a rarely enforced rule, and Wedge's tirade stopped just short of getting him ejected. In the bottom of the ninth, the umpires again called a ball on Betancourt for taking too much time.
After the game Indians manager Eric Wedge accused the Tigers of alerting the umpires to Betancourt's slow delivery, an allegation that Tigers manager Jim leyland flatly denied. So how did the umps know about Betancourt's tendency to have a slow motion? According to the chief umpire from Tuesday night, it is because MLB keeps a naughty list of slow players:
DeMuth said Wednesday that Betancourt is on a list, supplied by Major League Baseball to its umpires, that shows which pitchers and hitters take too much time...
"The players (who take a lot of time) are reported by other crews and evaluators in the stands," DeMuth said. "There are names on this list of batters who constantly take a long time getting into the box. There are names of pitchers who don't immediately go out to the mound for the start of the inning. There are names of pitchers who throw a few pitches in the bullpen after they are signaled into the game. There are all sorts of reasons to get on a list of delaying the pace of the game."
What really gets me about this is that MLB is paying people to essentially spy on players during games to see if they are being too slow. Nevermind the abuse of steroids and HGH in baseball, we need to get those dirty rotten SLOW PITCHERS!!! They are ruining the sanctity of the game!!!
On a more serious note, this particular rule was changed just this year. The rule used to be that a pitcher had twenty seconds to throw a pitch once the batter had stepped into the box, which has now been reduced to twelve. The reason of course behind this rule change, as well as the spies and the slow-mo list, is that MLB is trying to speed up games to satisfy its TV partners who were getting fed up with three hour marathons in recent years. This is yet another example of how MLB only cares about the bottom line.