Major League Baseball games are long, there’s no secret there. The Average MLB game is just over 3 hours long. Me personally having kids that are young, I would never take my kid to a weekday game because the game wouldn’t get over until 10:30 at night. I, nor my kids, have the attention span to sit there for 3.5 hours and watch a game.
The toughest thing about baseball is the time between action. This graph below puts it into perspective. In today’s MLB, there is over 205 seconds in between balls put in play, that’s over 3 minutes. It’s insane. Based on the graph, it’s trending in the wrong direction too:
Combine that and the average pitch taking 22.6 seconds from the pitcher, it makes the game a total disaster.
The MLB proposed two changes for the 2017 season: First they proposed bringing the strike zone up FROM the bottom of the knee cap TO above the knee cap, thus raising it up and allowing more balls to be put in play. In addition to that, they also proposed an extra innings rule in which a runner would be put on 2nd base to start out an inning in extra innings. Why? Let’s worry about the first 9 innings and not the extra innings.
Both rule changes have almost zero effect on the time of the time. If MLB wants to do anything, they need to implement something that minor leagues has already put in place. A pitch clock.
In the minors, there is a 20 second pitch clock for pitchers to deliver the ball to home plate. With the current AVERAGE pitch taking 22.6 seconds in the MLB, taking 3 seconds off PER PITCH would instantly reduce MLB games by 15 minutes (Figuring on the low end of 200 total pitches combined between each team).
But why stop there. In addition to the pitch clock, batters should be limited to how many times they can step out of the batters box, and how long they can step out for. There are times where batters will literally step out of the box and practically go for a stroll. There is no need for that. Get in the box, adjust yourself and swing the bat. One of my favorite players of all time, Nomar Garciaparra, was a human rain delay when it came to stepping out of the box, adjusting, toe tapping, the whole gamut.
Another thing MLB can do to expedite these games is limit the pitches thrown by pitchers that are just coming into a game from the bullpen. A pitcher just threw 20+ pitches in the bullpen, why does he need to take another 8 when coming in the game? I understand that the mounds may be slightly different, but cut that limit in half and get on with the game.
Another place they can trim the fat is intentional walks. Just put the guy on base and move on.
I get that NFL games are roughly 3 hours long, but here’s the thing, it’s only 16 games a year. There’s 162 MLB games and when each and every one of them is over 3 hours long, it makes it that much more painful to watch.
I love baseball just as much as the next person, but these games should be 2.5 hours and not a second more, unless extra innings. The Red Sox / Yankees rivalry is one of the best in sports, every time I saw those on the schedule, you just knew it was a 4 hour game, it’s just too much.
If the MLB wants to make baseball more watchable, they need to take further action to speed up these games.