The second-inning stretch
This week, this space is directed toward the 3 to 4 percent of you who will spend time in the next week watching the World Series. Baseball, once our true national pastime, has tumbled to the humbled status of “niche market.” Dwarf Ultimate Fighting or Cheerleader Food Fights might now get better ratings. So be it.
Anyways, the Series is on between the Rox and the Sox. Dandy. For anybody who dares to tune in, I offer two viewing tips that can make a real difference between watching the games and becoming dangerously irritated, and watching the games and remaining mildly irascible.
Firstly: The Tivo/DVR is now essential for baseball watching. There’s no getting around it. If you don’t have a DVR unit, you’re dead. Yes, the DVR has the obvious benefit of allowing you to scoot through the relentless onslaught of neuron-melting advertisements. But it does something else that’s equally crucial—It allows you to watch the game itself at a faster speed.
Example. You’ve got the pause on your DVR, and you’ve built up 60 minutes of back time. Perfect. Now, you can watch the game at 4X speed, or four times the real pace. Considering that all playoff and World Series games actually MOVE SLOWER than regular season contests (as difficult as that reality may be to grasp), this glaciality works to the shrewd DVR operator’s advantage. I was jazzed to stumble upon the discovery that, at 4X normal speed, a baseball game becomes almost watchable! Because at that speed, the video isn’t going so quickly that a viewer can’t make sense of what’s going on. Au contraire! At that speed, the game looks like it’s moving just a shade faster than real time. So when something of genuine interest occurs, which, admittedly, does happen once in a while, you can back down to real time, soak up the action, listen to the comments, and then get back into the 4X zone when the snoozing resumes. But the interminable stalling created by foul ball after foul ball, where every pitch count goes to 3 and 2? History. Thank you, Tivo unit. Thank you.
Secondly: The broadcast of all World Series games starts at 5 p.m. That means about 20 minutes of pre-game poop, then the first pitch at 5:20. To preserve your baseball-watching energy, I’d advise the use of the “Three Hour Plan.” Since playoff baseball games now move at a pace best described as tectonic, this means that you leave the tube off for three hours, so when you turn on the idiot box at 8 p.m., you’ll be joining the “action” in the 6th or 7th inning. Try it. Rarely have I used this strategy and found it was already the 8th or 9th inning. And never has the thing been over. It’s usually the 7th inning, maybe the 6th, and even then, good luck in watching the rest of the game without thinking at least once about how this is time you could have better spent whittling or learning to play the flute.