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The Mets on DVR: Baseball like it used to be

Remember when you could watch a baseball game in two hours and change?

Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images

On July 4th, 1985, I had the basic idea for what is now known as the DVR.

How do I know this? Because that’s the date of that crazy 19-inning Mets-Braves game that ended around four in the morning. And that’s where I got the idea.

But sadly I didn’t invent the thing. Dammit Jim, I’m a writer, not Bill Gates.

I had moved to the southeast, was out that evening and was taping the game. The deal was that I’d wait for my dad’s call to tell me when the game was over so I could rewind the VHS tape and start watching.

10pm, no call from Dad. 11pm, still no call and the tape was running out. Finally I called him and found out about the rain delay, so I hadn’t missed much.

And then it hit me … if only you could watch what you already recorded on the VCR and still keep taping. Which is the basic principle of the DVR.

But fast forward to 2014, and that’s not the only great thing about the invention. Not when the game of baseball moves at the pace of continental drift.

So if you’ve watched a Mets game in real time lately and at some point grabbed a magazine, your computer, or a deck of cards, you need to learn how to watch baseball on the DVR. Four hours magically becomes two.

Here’s what an infomercial would sound like for a system to watch the Mets:

“Tired of waiting around while Terry Collins makes a visit to the mound long enough for you to open an IRA? Do you really want to watch batters step out of the box after every swing and adjust, you know, stuff? Have you ever yelled at the TV, ‘Hey, Dice-K, do I have to call the psychic hotline to see if you’re gonna throw a pitch sometime in the near future?’ Well, help is on the way with the new Mets DVR! It magically eliminates all the things you don’t want to see in the game. Order now and we’ll throw in the new Chris Young hopper, which automatically skips over any batter you don’t care to watch!”

So here’s the deal if you don’t have four hours to spare and want to use time-shifting technology. First, you need another buddy who also tapes games. Then, you both start taping the game and let the delays, commercials, etc. “build up” so that you have no down time. Next, one of you starts watching the game about ninety minutes after it starts. During this time you must avoid the Internet, sports channels, and answer the phone not by saying “hello” but with, “Don’t tell me the score of the Mets game.”

I have this down to a science. If I’m the DW (Designated Watcher) on a particular day, I might make a call like this to my DVR buddy: “Fast forward to the fourth inning. Nothing happens till then.” Or this: “Blowout. Too painful to watch. Just delete it.” Or my favorite: “Don’t miss the look on Dillon Gee’s face when Collins takes him out after eighty pitches while he’s throwing a shutout.” (Freeze-frame opportunity!)

Of course there’s more than just the speeding-up factor; you can watch great catches by Juan Lagares again, slow them down frame by frame. Or in my case, replay those Keystone Cops moments for my wife, who will only watch sports if something funny happens. (She watched Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble over and over and over.)

As for the pace of today’s game, you may find this interesting. Mets fans of a certain age will remember that night games originally started at eight and we would go on a school night. Sunday doubleheaders began at one and you would be home in time for dinner. Thankfully, technology allows for the two-hour ballgame again.

Amazing, to bring back something good from the past we needed a modern invention. Works for me.