George Will's suggestion that umpires are responsible for the agonizing length of Major League baseball games is perplexing. Television has added 20 to 25 minutes to game length at a minimum. Strike-zone shrinkage is attributable much more to the managers, who don't want high strikes called: They don't want their pitchers throwing the ball up there where it gets creamed.

The umpires, for the most part, are enforcing the new zone, a turnaround that probably has unmasked today's pitchers for what they are -- not very good. Earned run averages seem to have soared (particularly out here in Los Angeles with our formerly beloved Dodgers), as has the scoring. The designated hitter rule hasn't helped us leave the park any earlier either!

And by the way, who says short games are better? I go to the park to stay, not to leave. I want to eat my hot dogs, keep score the way my dad taught me when I was 8 and root for the Red Sox all night if that's what it takes.

To blame the umps for this transgression is nonsense. True, baseball could use umpire evaluations to weed out the poorer umps. But it's indeed sad the way it all went down with the sacrifice of some fine umpires. Day in and day out, most of the umps are incredibly good, to which anyone who has been out there on the field and tried it can attest.


Irvine, Calif.