Average Length Of MLB Games See Increase At Start Of Season Despite Rule Changes
Despite MLB's efforts to quicken the pace of games, the length of a nine-inning contest actually "jumped to 3 hours, 5 minutes, 45 seconds" through 119 games this season, a more than "five-minute increase from last season," according to data cited by David Lennon of NEWSDAY. The average is also up "almost 10 minutes from 2015 (2:56:14)." To some degree, it is a "cost of technological advancement." The expansion of video replay "definitely has caused a drag." Meanwhile, through Friday, the termination of the four-pitch intentional walk saved "220 pitches overall and roughly 36 minutes -- total -- over two weeks." The cost has been "adding some weirdly disorientating moments, along with removing a basic element of the sport itself." Through the first 130 games, 91 plays "had been reviewed, with 42 [or 46.2%] being overturned." According to MLB, the "average time of a video review is 1:36." Lennon: "So what’s been the holdup overall? The biggest culprit doesn’t take many guesses: the between-inning commercial breaks" (NEWSDAY, 4/16). In N.Y., Mary Pilon wrote even after an epic World Series, critics of the sport "are still crying foul." Pilon: "They say it’s too male, too white, too old." There are also "increasingly fewer major-league games that kids can actually watch live, with matchups rarely ending before 11 or midnight." However, the "biggest complaint of baseball fans -- both young and old -- is that the pace of the game is too sluggish" (N.Y. POST, 4/16).
EXTRA INNINGS OFF LIMITS? In N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote MLB "should allow ties if a game remains deadlocked after 12 innings." Sherman: "The reality is we have a proactive commissioner, and improving the viewability of the product and lowering injuries are his obsessions." At a time when there are "protective measures taken to try to preserve arms, these elongated games put pitchers and, on occasion, position players in harm’s way." Sherman: "Why are we putting players through these marathons? We know more than ever that performing at exhaustion levels increases the potential for injury. We know viewership ... drops from peak the longer and longer a game goes" (N.Y. POST, 4/16). Marlins manager Don Mattingly said that he "does not favor rule changes that might expedite a quicker conclusion to games in extra innings." In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis noted MLB is experimenting with a rule this season in the Gulf Coast and Arizona League that will "automatically place a runner on second base at the start of extra innings." Mattingly: "I wouldn’t want to see a (major league) game decided like that." He added that he regards such a change "too radical for the majors, and that coping with the rigors of extended innings is a fair challenge for both teams" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/15).