Anonymous MLB Exec Calls For Seven-Inning Games To Appeal To Younger Fans
An anonymous MLB exec said the league "ought to change the games to seven innings" in order to reduce the length of games, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The exec said that MLB games are "often played too slowly." Olney noted seven innings instead of nine would "mean the games would finish closer to two-and-a-half hours than three hours or longer," which would be a "better fit for the common attention span." MLB's audience is "aging, with polls indicating that the youngest generation expects faster and fastest in what it consumes." The exec said that a "younger audience might be more attracted to a shorter, more intense product," and that "fewer pitchers to throw fewer innings would mean fewer injuries" (ESPN.com, 4/7).
NOT MUCH SUPPORT: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said there are "other ways to shorten the game if they’re not lazy." Wilbon: "The people running baseball can simply say, ‘Here is what we’re going to have: You don’t step out of the box or a pitcher can throw a pitch. There’s no stepping out of the box. The manager gets one trip out and he can’t send the catcher out first to delay.’ The pitching changes, the step-out changes, the fix-my-glove changes -- you can knock off 20 minutes a night just doing that.” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said, “This would be terrible on a lot of levels in terms of records. I mean what baseball is about is numbers and if you shorten the game to seven, I don’t know how this works" (“PTI,” ESPN, 4/7). ESPN’s Bob Ryan said, “If you had a team ahead at the end of six and a half (and) the home team was winning, there would be no 7th inning stretch. That’s the end of this right here. They've got to speed up the game, but seven innings isn't the way to do it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/7). ESPN’s Michael Smith said, “I hate it. I can’t stand it. This is where I draw the line.” Smith: “Why is everybody in such a rush? What do you have to do? Where do you have to be?” But ESPN’s Jemele Hill said, “Seven innings would solve a lot of baseball’s problems. It is genius. Obviously, it would solve the increasing length of games and probably decrease the number of injuries." Hill: “They have to accept the fact that these games, the length of them, that is not where the modern sports fan is right now. ... You have to worry about it because they are your future consumers” ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 4/7). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote Red Sox-Yankees games would "last four hours if they were four innings, and the new replay rules are already being worked by managers to lengthen rather than shorten games" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/7).