For a Saturday night, it still felt relatively early when Game 3 of the Atlantic League Freedom Division Championship Series finished at 10:27 p.m. at Sovereign Bank Stadium nearly two weeks ago.
The majority of the York Revolution playoff-record crowd of 6,437 fans was still there at the end, perhaps hanging on to see Andy Etchebarren walk off the field for the final time in a Revs' uniform.
But the game officially took 3 hours, 48 minutes to complete. Coincidentally, the second game of the series took the same amount of time to play. That's something Etchebarren said he hopes to change next season when he works in an advisor's role under Opening Day Partners' chairman Peter Kirk.
"Fans don't want to sit there for four hours," Etchebarren said. "We got to speed it up somehow. How we're gonna do that I'm not sure yet. We're going to try. I got some ideas."
Umpires: Shortening games would be nice. But it's just one of many improvements needed in the Atlantic League, which will enter its 16th season in 2013.
Some Revs' fans probably feel umpiring should be at the forefront of improvements. After all, there were a couple games last season that were called so poorly I'd prefer bringing in umpires from the pool of the NFL's former "replacement referees." Etchebarren said he hopes to make improvements in that area in his advisor role, too. So, it's a good sign that changes could be coming in the near future.
Drug testing: Since at least 2005, the Atlantic League has been testing players for drugs, which includes everything from steroids to marijuana to cocaine, according to previous reports by The York Dispatch.
But the league keeps the tests private, so there's no way of knowing if a player gets released or suspended based on his play on the field or his actions off of it.
With that being said, the Atlantic League needs to decide between one of two things -- publicize the results of the tests or recognize drug suspensions handed down from other leagues.
Earlier in the year, the Long Island Ducks welcomed back outfielder Matt Esquivel just weeks after he was let go by a Mexican League club. Reports later showed the release came because the Mexican League tagged Esquivel, a former Revs' outfielder, with a 50-game suspension for a positive test for marijuana. I'm all for second chances. But we'll never know if the Atlantic League tested Esquivel this season. And if he was tested, we'll never know the results.
More recently, Minor League Baseball, the league for MLB's affiliated clubs, served a 50-game suspension to outfielder Joey Gathright after a positive test for the performance-enhancing drug amphetamine. The suspension, although announced last week, stemmed from the 40 games Gathright played for the Cincinnati Reds' Class AAA Louisville club from May to July. Gathright finished out the season with the Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish after being released by the Reds on July 11.
Kirk said by phone last week that the possibility of recognizing suspensions from other leagues is a topic on the agenda for the Atlantic League's upcoming meeting. It would put a black eye on the league if Gathright returns to Bridgeport next season. Unless, of course, he passed a drug test by the Atlantic League, the results of which should be made public. And if they're not, then Gathright shouldn't play.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.