Josh Donaldson might have inadvertently solved what MLB perceives as one of its biggest ongoing crises.
Playing in a minor league spring training game in Florida last week, the Toronto Blue Jays slugger hit a mammoth home run. Then, instead of jogging around the bases, he headed straight for the dugout.
How time saving! Imagine the seconds MLB could slice from each of its games if players no longer bothered to run around the bases on home runs.
When video of the incident went public, reaction was immediate and not very flattering.
For example, according to CBS Sports, Texas baseball coach Sean Allen Tweeted: “This might be the worst video I have ever seen. So much disrespect to the game of baseball. Baseball gods will handle this.”
Donaldson responded in a timely fashion: “not allowed to run right now Sean. Please only condemn your players to the Baseball Gods. I bet you love to give the bunt sign.”
Donaldson is recovering from a calf injury and was just trying to get in a few swings while adhering to doctor's orders. Much ado over nothing, but still — with MLB agonizing over the length of its games, it's a thought. Right?
There's a very simple reason why MLB struggles with this problem. It's because they created it, and they can't undo it.
The first thing they did happened so many years ago that it predates most of today's fans. It's called TV.
I know MLB restricted the length of commercial breaks many years ago, but that didn't come close to solving the real issue. Baseball players have been doing it for so long now, they probably don't realize how much unnecessary posing they do.
Watch them. Fix this, straighten that, kiss the bat, tip their hat, lick their fingers, pound their gloves, adjust their hose, hide their jewelry, pull down their pant legs, pull up their pant legs, dust themselves off, spit some seeds, flip their bat, flip their hair, point their finger, point it to the the sky, point it at the pitcher, just don't give it to the fans.
And it's all for the cameras.
Then came the modern villain of Major League Baseball, the instant replay. If it were up to me, I'd get rid of it entirely. It's not even the total time it adds to games. It's the unnatural break in games that it causes — pauses where pauses don't go.
I watched an entire World Baseball Classic game the other night and guess what? The WBC might never be very meaningful to Americans, but it has proved you don't need replay to play baseball.
I didn't miss it at all.
I know MLB will never give it up. It's like Social Security. Once you start it, there's no going back.
Baseball just needs to realize the havoc it plays, not so much with the length of games as it does with the pace of the game. Baseball also needs to learn there's a difference between the two.
John Nelson spent 27 years with the Associated Press in New York, covering sports all over the world, and was the AP's national baseball writer for 10 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.