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Morning Report: The old (long) ball game

One of the reasons I haven't watched baseball much since the Danny Ozark era is the interminable length of the games.

One of the reasons I haven't watched baseball much since the Danny Ozark era is the interminable length of the games.

It's not that baseball is slow. It's that a baseball game goes on and on and on. And when Kyle Kendrick pitches, it goes on even longer.

According to the vigilant folks at the Elias Sports Bureau, a nine-inning game this season is averaging nearly 2 hours and 52 minutes. In 1981, an average game took 2:33.

Well, someone in New York finally took notice, and Major League Baseball authorities held a series of conference calls last week with each club's manager, general manager and in-game entertainment staff. All umpire crew chiefs also were involved.

Among the suggestions was to enforce two rules already on the books:

Umpires should urge batters to enter the batter's box faster, and enforce rules such as issuing an automatic strike to batters who linger outside the box.

In bases-empty situations, pitchers should be warned if they don't pitch within a 12-second time limit. Pitchers will be called for a ball for each subsequent violation.

In addition to those existing rules, conferences on the pitcher's mound will be broken up more quickly, and teams will be asked to have a reserve player or coach ready to catch warm-up pitches if a catcher isn't ready.

Teams also will be fined for repeated violations of league rules for in-game entertainment, such as allowing public address announcements and music and video presentations to run too long.

Alas, there is no cure for lousy pitching and timid hurlers who won't throw the ball or go after hitters, which are the two biggest reasons of all.

But at least the big shots finally are listening.

Now if we can just get them to start World Series games before 9 p.m.

And the 76ers take . . . The order was set just a week ago, and already mock NBA drafts are coming out. Yahoo Sports projects the 76ers, who draft No. 16, to take Darrell Arthur, a 6-foot-9 power forward who played two seasons at national champion Kansas.

The Web site went with the conventional wisdom that the Chicago Bulls will take Kansas State freshman power forward Michael Beasley at No. 1; and the Miami Heat will take Memphis point guard Derrick Rose at No. 2.

Quotable. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich apparently runs a no-nonsense practice.

"He has the floor all the time," Brent Barry told the San Antonio Express-News. "He's got this bully pulpit up there, and he tells you what he likes and dislikes. And he asks you, 'OK, what do you think?' And before you can answer, he's like, 'OK, let's get started.'

"That's not fair. That's what my wife does."