There is a new rule in the MLB this year: batter walkup music can't last more than 15 seconds. It's another one of the hundred attempts that the league has made to whittle down the time of games without addressing the actual issue.
(Spoilers: it's time between pitches and commercials.)
Shane Victorino is not best pleased with this change. As Red Sox fans know, his arrival at the plate became a bit of an event at some point in 2013, with Fenway singing along to the opening of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." Victorino is entirely cognizant of this. Via WEEI's Rob Bradford:
"€œI just feel like it shouldn't be a designated time, Some guys take their time. Some guys that's their rhythm. I don't want to do just because I want to listen to the whole song. It's because it's the thing that's been picked up and the way it happened toward the end of the season. That's the only reason I let that part of the song go. If not, I don'€™t pay attention to that."
There are rules that make sense and should be followed. And then there are rules that really beg to be broken. God knows this is one of the latter.
How much time do walkup songs really effect how long it takes between at bats? Do batters stand in the on deck circle, refusing to leave until the last notes fade out? Are they ready a fixed amount of time after the music ends? Or is the music just an added touch to a routine that's pretty well set in stone by the time a player makes the majors? Jonny Gomes is still going to adjust his helmet 20 times whether the music is playing or not.
No, all this does is to make it look like the league is taking action to address fan concerns. It's not going to make any real difference in game time. All it does is, in some rare cases like Victorino's, negatively impact the fan experience, particularly for those at the park. These are the small things--part of the ballpark atmosphere--that make it worthwhile to leave air conditioning and center field cameras behind for cramped seats and humidity.
Given that, it would be nice to see some rebellion out of Victorino and the Sox. Just leave Marley playing. Not throughout the at bat, mind, just as long as they would have last year.
That's an unlikely scenario given that we are reminded every other day that this game of ours is, first and foremost, a business. But it's one I hope for. It would be such a small gesture to show that there's something more to this relationship than that of business and customer. If the league tries to object, they'll be doing so in the face of thousands of Fenway fans openly supporting the practice night after night. Maybe that doesn't make a difference in the world of league politics, but at the very least it will make it clear that Major League Baseball isn't doing this for the sake of the fans.
Let Fenway sing.