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Time of Game – Too Long? 

January 19, 2015

by William Szczepanek

1957 Topps Roy Face #165Much has been written about the length of baseball games and possible changes in rules to make the game shorter. In 2011 I wrote an article about the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and Pirates and commented on the pace of the game. Nineteen runs scored in 2 hours and 36 minutes. Roy face took his 8 warmup pitches in 24 seconds. I wish games today were played in the same pace as that one.

I really don’t think that rule changes are necessary, but just a cooperative effort among the players to make it more interesting.  No one complains about the 3 hour games where 20 runs are scored and action is flowing. It’s the over 3 ½ hour games with little action that are the real problem.
Baseball has gone in the opposite direction as the culture of sports in recent decades. Football is made more interesting through replays while the team huddles for the next play. There is only about 11 minutes of action in a game.  Basketball and hockey are non-stop action.

The single most time consuming event in a baseball game is the batter stepping out of the batter’s box to attend to personal matters. This act has become a habit rather than an essential action. Fifteen minutes to a half an hour could be saved by a concerted effort on the players’ part to keep the game moving. If they thought that they would be losing money for the time it takes to adjust batting gloves and helmets, they would most certainly change their actions. The strange thing is that you could fine a player $100.00 every time they stepped out of the batter’s box and it still wouldn’t significantly impact their salary. Something is wrong with that too. If fans would boo anytime a batter takes too long, the game might change.

Many find baseball boring, and while I really enjoy the strategy and mind aspects of the game, very often I find myself agreeing with them. It isn’t the length of the game, it is the absence of action. We find ourselves in a fast paced culture where smartphones and videos grab our constant attention. Movies are now about action over dialogue.

Pitch clocks are being tried in the minors, but I hope that doesn’t result in rule changes. When baseball games were played faster the country moved slower. A baseball game was a thing to watch while you sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the smell of the grass and the fresh air. That day is long gone. My message to the players is “move it or lose it”.To keep pace with the times I resolve that my articles will be shorter in 2015.

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