Do unnecessary words slow your game?

I love baseball. But some people find the game too slow. The powers that be in Major League Baseball have lately instituted various rules to shorten the game—they’re even considering a pitch clock.

When coaches consult with pitchers during the game, that’s timed now—and from the moment the coach steps out of the dugout. So we now get to see out-of-shape middle-aged men running at top speed to the pitchers mound, arriving with just enough breath to gasp out their essential advice: “Throw strikes.”

Pitching coaches often teach their charges to eliminate unnecessary movements from their windup. I think the game could also benefit from eliminating unnecessary words. In fact, we all can.

Unnecessary words — yer out!

unnecessary wordsIf the folks who run baseball teams are really serious about shortening games, I direct their attention to the announcer’s booth. Let’s start with a sentence intoned by the public address announcer before the National Anthem that kicks off every game:

“At this time, we ask that you rise and remove your caps.”

No, I’m not suggesting that we stop singing the National Anthem. But look at that sentence:

“At this time”—to use a technical term: Duh.

You’re not saying, “In 15 minutes, we’re going to ask that you rise and remove your caps.” No, you’re making the announcement now. The cap-removal starts now. You don’t need to add that NOW is when we’re asking you to do it.

And if you really feel a need for a redundancy, then a simple “Now” will do. “We now ask…” But again, now is clearly when you’re asking.

And “ask”? I mean, yes, it’s nice to ask. But it’s a law or something that we remove headgear when they play the National Anthem. So is the announcer really asking?

Note: There’s no law, as far as I know, that requires any particular reverent gestures for Irving Berlin songs, and yet a security guard in Yankee Stadium once ejected a paying customer who tried to leave the stands to go to the bathroom during the singing of Berlin’s “God Bless America.” The man sued, and won.

At any rate: “At this time”—redundant; “we ask”—unnecessary. Which leaves us with:

“Rise and remove your caps.”

I’d throw a “please” in front of that because my mother raised me right.

“Please rise and remove your caps.”

There: I just shaved 30 seconds off the game.

At this time, you may thank me. A simple tip of the cap will do.

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