Suzyn Waldman grew up a Red Sox fan and has made her professional mark over decades of covering the Yankees.
She knows from Yankees-Red Sox games, including their longtime reputation for trying the patience of even the most diehard fan.
So when she got to her home in Westchester County after Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium and saw the clock read 11:15, she knew the world had changed.
“I was thinking ‘boy, you know, all these years I don’t leave the park until 11:30,’ ” the radio announcer said before the Yankees’ 3-1 win Saturday night.
How does she know this? “Because for years I’ve been saying, ‘Can we open the clubhouse? It’s 11:30!’ ”
That was before the pitch clock, of course.
Major League Baseball’s move to be sticklers for tickers has been a hit, on average shaving about a half-hour off the length of nine-inning games. But it was not until this weekend that the clock faced its ultimate test.
Yankees vs. Red Sox used to be the most intense rivalry in baseball. Now it is Yankees-Red Sox vs. the clock.
So far, the clock is 2-for-2.
It won Round One decisively in the Red Sox’s 3-2 victory on Friday night.
When I asked Yankees manager Aaron Boone before Saturday’s game about Yankees-Red Sox being the toughest challenge yet for the clock, he smiled.
Then he asked reporters how long Friday night’s game took to play. He was told it was 2:28, which used to be around when the sixth inning started for these teams.
“We were on the wrong side of things,” Boone said, “but [Friday] night was kind of a great game. It was a well-played game, both sides.
“Look, I think for most of us and most of you [reporters] and the fans, I think the pitch clock’s been a success.”
The Yankees were on the right side of things Saturday. So was the clock. Game time: 2:29.
Saturday night’s game kept moving despite some detours, including a 14-pitch walk by Boston’s Masataka Yoshida against Wandy Peralta in the seventh.
The fact that it was on national television added to the degree of difficulty.
But both starters — the Yankees’ Domingo German and Boston’s Tanner Houck — mostly were sharp, with German allowing one run in six innings in another solid outing.
The early innings flew by, and eventually the Yankees took control for a needed victory after three losses in their first four games on the homestand.
Waldman noted that the Yankees and Orioles also played some marathon doozies back in the day, which is true. But the Yankees and Bosox made four-hour games famous. On Aug. 18, 2006, they perfected the art.
The Yankees won the first game of a separate admission doubleheader, 12-4, at Fenway Park in a mere 3:55.
The second game, a 14-11 Yankees victory, lasted 4:45, breaking the record for the longest nine-inning game in major league history by 18 minutes.
All that is over now if the Yankees and Red Sox can sustain the tidiness of their first two meetings of the season.
“For those of us over a certain age, it’s back to baseball as I grew up with it,” Waldman said. “It’s just a different feel to the whole game, and it’s fabulous. It’s great, and it’s worked for everybody.”
That is true, but the question entering this weekend was: Can it work for Yankees-Red Sox?
Waldman noted the obvious fact that the players and managers have changed over the decades for these teams, but until now, it has not changed the trend.
Down the road, the next big test for the pitch clock will be the playoffs, where traditionally everyone takes extra time to focus — or stall.
But after all the accolades it has received for the rule change, there is no way MLB will back off its enforcement in the postseason, nor should it.
We’ll see how this goes for the Yankees. The Red Sox beat them in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS in a 14-inning game that lasted 5:49.
Between the pitch clock and the extra-innings ghost runner, those days figure to be over forever. Probably.