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Some Mid-April Thoughts on Ivy League Baseball, Game Length, and Orioles' Fine Start

Being a secular Jew who does not observe most of his religion's holidays, I had no
guilt pangs about going to a college doubleheader on Easter Sunday yesterday.

My alma mater Columbia salvaged the last game of its four-game series against division rival Cornell thanks in large part to long balls by slugging junior third baseman Randell Kanamaru and senior second baseman Kyle Bartelman.

The Lions are three behind perennial contender Penn with eight games left to play. Four of them are against Penn so they are certainly not out of it. Princeton and Cornell are tied for second two games between the Quakers.

In the Rolfe Division Yale is 10-2 and Dartmouth is 8-4. Their upcoming showdown will determine who goes to the best-of-three playoff with the prize being the automatic NCAA tournament bid.

Best news for followers of Ivy League baseball is that the division set-up will be scrapped next year in favor of a more sensible 21-game season, made up of three-game series against every league rival. The new schedule eliminates the grueling back-to-back doubleheaders on Sat and Sun that often wreaked havoc on pitching staffs (even though the first game was always only 7 innings.)

Starting in 2018, all 21 Ivy League games will be 9-inning affairs (or more, of course):
A doubleheader on Saturday, followed by a single Sunday game.

There is no nonsensical talk in the Ivy League about ending extra-inning games after 12 frames with a tie decreed. Or putting in the rule used in international baseball where baserunners are put on first and second at the beginning of every inning after the 11th

So much of the "speeding up major league baseball" talk is absurd. As long as the clubs want the TV money that pays for as many as three minutes of ads between innings, there will be no real slowdown of the game.

If you time college and high school games, you will see that without TV broadcasts, half-inning breaks are usually 90 seconds, no more.

If you want to speed up games, I suggest: Let the players play and run the commercials and give the fans at home taped highlights of what they've missed.
Or run the ads and the game action simultaneously on split screens.

Another suggestion: Cut down the number of meetings allowed between pitchers and catchers and entire infields and coaches. I think these incessant confabs are killing the normal flow of the game.

It affected the length of the Columbia victory over Cornell - a game without TV that went on for well over three hours.

It's much too early, of course, to make any assessment of the pennant races in major league baseball. "You can't win pennants in April but you sure can lose them early" goes one wise old saying.

So I feel for the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays who are at 2-10 and already seven lost games behind my 8-3 Orioles. No one is better at stoking a robust underdog attitude among his players than Buck Showalter of the always-denigrated Orioles.

We will be without ace closer Zach Britton for at least 10 days with a forearm strain - at least the pain now is closer to wrist than the dreaded elbow. But in Brad Brach and perhaps Darren O'Day and converted shortstop Michael Givens the Birds will have ample replacements.

And how about the power surge of Trey Mancini, the Notre Dame product who has electrified the state of Maryland though he hails from Florida. (I mistakenly noted in the first edition of this blog that he hailed from Md.)

Mancini's home run production is astounding in his short career. In Easter Sunday's 11-4 win over the Blue Jays, he not only hit two HRs but teammates Craig Gentry and Manny Machado borrowed his bat and both dialed long distance, too.

Now you know me, readers: I'm a doubles and triples in the gap kinda guy and don't want people swinging for the fences too much. But Trey seems to be focused as a hitter and long may his surge continue.

That's all for now - always remember: Take it easy but take it.
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