SBD/June 4, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Lengthy Pitcher, Batter Routines Increasing Duration Of MLB Games

Tigers games this season are averaging three hours, six minutes in length, and "increased an average of 14 minutes" from '09 through last season, according to Rod Beard of the DETROIT NEWS. The average length this season ranks as the "fifth-highest average" in the AL. April games generally are "longer than the rest of the season, peaking at 3:14 last season," and as the "months pass, game times are quicker, reaching a low of 2:55 last July." The Royals have the AL's "shortest average, at 2:53." Tigers P Max Scherzer said, "One of the biggest things with pace of game is regulating the starting pitchers on when they throw the ball. ... You see pitchers who throw and they're walking around the mound. They take too much time between pitches." Beard noted there are "17 TV breaks in a game, which equates to about 34-40 minutes of commercials." Scherzer: “TV’s the majority of it; there are things we could do as players to help speed it up a little bit. At the end of the day, it’s not much. There’s only little things that players and pitchers can do to speed it up between innings" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/3). Beard wrote a separate piece under the header, "Pitcher, Batter Routines Delay Baseball Games" and analyzed the May 4 Tigers-Royals game, timing and breaking down each at-bat (DETROIT NEWS, 6/3).

PICK UP THE PACE! SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote “length of game is a bigger problem with the media than it is with the fans.” The “bigger problem is the pace of game.” The pace of the action during MLB games in ’14 “never has been worse in baseball history.” The two biggest causes have been “marked improvement in run prevention methodologies (detailed scouting information, defensive shifts, increased velocity, increased use of specialized bullpens, etc.)” and the “utter disregard players have for pace of play.” The “health of the business of the game is robust,” but the worry for the next commissioner “is that these customers are not engaged enough and not young enough.” The task “is to keep the game attractive to the casual and young fans while honoring the expectations of the core fan.” Verducci: “Adding 29 minutes of dead time and less action doesn't help.” Players’ behavior toward pace of play also “has changed because the umpires, the union and MLB have allowed it to change.” For “more than a hundred years players never needed all this time between pitches to ‘prepare,’ but it has became the style of the day because it has gone unchecked” (SI.com, 5/27).
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