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Yankees-Red Sox: Teams Renew Timeless Rivalry under Scrutiny of Time

This weekend marks the second rendezvous between two teams that share the most historic rivalry in all of sports. Yes, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox clash again under the lights of Fenway.

Those of you who plan on watching the duels that will take place over the weekend should also plan on paying attention for at least four hours at a time and not have anything important or pivotal planned directly following each game.

We all know that any meeting between these two clubs will last a considerable amount of time. What we cannot seem to agree on is whether or not it is appropriate, be it to the fans or the game itself, for the competitions to have such "long" durations.

Veteran umpire Joe West made his feelings unquestionably vivid during their first series when he stated: "They're [Yankees and Red Sox] two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It's pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play."

These two clubs play 18 games in a season against each other and with this weekend series accounting for the fourth, fifth, and sixth competitions in this long season series, the concern arises as to how the umpiring crew will approach the weekend series.

Yes, players on both clubs step out of the box multiple times during an at-bat and they call for time merely to disrupt a pitcher's rhythm. But it is important not to overlook the fact that these are two of the best teams in baseball.

Because of that, pitchers and catchers will take time going through signs. There will be multiple meetings on the mound. Batters will go deep into counts and will foul more pitchers off than other clubs would.

Frankly, the only people who complain about the long duration of the games between these two clubs are those watching at home because it interferes with other television programming.

Those who pay good money to attend these advertisement friendly games do not care about the duration. Those who don't have the luxury to flip channels when they do not like what they see, those who don't have the luxury of a personal bathroom during commercials, those who can't turn down the audience to accept a phone call, those who still must drive home following the game have no problem with the duration and pace of the game.

But consider this:

•A football game has a regulation time of 60 minutes. Even with a 25 and 40 second play clock and delay of game penalties, in most cases, plays and downs get reviewed and repeated due to penalties.

•A professional basketball game has 48 minutes of regulation and college basketball is afforded 40 minutes of regulation. But with free throws and even a limit on time outs, these games, more often than not, exceed the time limit television programming affords them.

In both cases, each sport receives a substantial amount of television viewership, media attention, and commercial advertisement much like any Yankees/Red Sox series and also goes over the time allotted.

There are many certainties that surround this weekend's matchup. Both teams will field the best they have to offer. Both teams will take anything and everything personally. All players will attempt diving plays and aerial acrobatics they otherwise wouldn't against any other ball club. Both managers will have short leashes on their pitchers and every fan will have a shorter leash on his team.

But how long of a leash will the umpiring crew have on either club, or for that matter, the clock?

Many may not care about my opinion, but for those who will listen, I believe the crew should let the game play out with little interference.

I believe it was during a baseball broadcast when I heard this quote: "The best umpire is one the audience doesn't realize is there."

The umpire calls balls and strikes, foul and fair, safe and out. They are not there to determine and regulate the pace of the game. The pace of the game is set by the teams, the players, and even the fans.

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