Sunday’s games show why NY Times says first task for new commissioner is quicken the pace

There are many challenges facing new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. One, though, stands out above the others.

Tyler Kepner in the New York Times zeroes in on the main issue plaguing baseball in his lede:

The fundamental problem facing Major League Baseball and its next commissioner, Rob Manfred, is that attention spans are getting shorter while games are getting longer. Confronting these clashing realities may be Manfred’s top priority when he takes office in January. It will be the first transition at the top of baseball’s hierarchy since Bud Selig replaced Fay Vincent in 1992.

“The job is much more complicated,” said Larry Baer, the chief executive of the San Francisco Giants. “You’re dealing with a 20- or 25-channel world, maybe, in 1992. Now you’re in a 500-channel universe and the Internet. You’re communicating with people that are walking down the street consuming baseball. And that’s a good thing; that’s positive. But we have to figure out ways to make it relevant to that 12-year-old.”

Sunday was a case in point. Here is what I found from reviewing the boxscores of the 16 games (the Reds and Rockies played a doubleheader):

Of the 16 games, 7 lasted in excess of three hours.

Another 5 fell between 2:55 and three hours.

The fastest game was 2:49 for Atlanta’s 4-3 victory over Oakland. The slowest was 3:59 for Colorado’s 10-9 win over Cincinnati.

Oh, you say the Rockies win took so long because of all the runs scored. Well, how do you explain the fact that Kansas City’s 12-6 victory over Minnesota took only 2:51, tying for the second quickest game Sunday? Indeed, it’s not just about the volume of runs.

Imagine the lack of nothing happening in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay, which dragged on for 3:13.

Indeed, the slow pace issue has to be Manfred’s main priority. Thankfully, momentum is building for something to be done.

From Kepner’s story:

That includes improving the pace of play. Thirty years ago, the average time of a game was 2 hours 35 minutes. This season, through last Sunday’s games, it was 3 hours 2 minutes 47 seconds, which would be the longest on record. Players sense the problem.

The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira, when asked what the new commissioner’s top priority should be, said: “From a fan’s perspective, getting kids interested in the game again, watching the game. I just know that kids don’t watch the game like I did, and pace of play doesn’t help that.”

I’ll keep working the stopwatch at Sherman Report.

6 thoughts on “Sunday’s games show why NY Times says first task for new commissioner is quicken the pace

  1. Ive been commenting for years- kids haven’t been able to watch the end to World Series games for many years- I have two boys, they never could stay up late enough to see the dramatic ending to many great WS games- they DO get to see the end of the NFL playoff games and the Super Bowl….. I get games are on late for TV- but in the long run , it hurts the sport. Two decades of kids never see the end of playoff games!

  2. Sorry I disagree. Baseball is a game without a clock. Who cares if a game lasts 2 hours or 3:15 minutes.

    Here’s a question…why is a 3:15 baseball game “bad” but an NFL games that regularly last 3:15 or longer no one makes a big deal over?

    Maybe the issue isn’t the length of the actual game but the fact that there is 2 and a half minutes of commercials between every half inning!

    Baseball has more important things to worry about than the time of the game. See Keith Olbermann’s brilliant piece on what’s really wrong with baseball and what he would do if elected commissioner. It ran last week the night baseball announced Manfred was elected.

  3. NFL games last roughly three and a half hours while featuring far less in-game action yet more advertising space than baseball, yet nobody seems to give a single care about reducing the game length in that league.

    So why focus this “complaint”, as weak of one as it is, on MLB? Is ‘game length’ the new line of reasoning to explain why the game is supposedly dying? How do these people even watch overtime games, especially in the NHL or NBA when there can be multiple, game-extending OTs?

    If you love sports, game length is a complete non-factor. I can only then assume that one only cares about the length of a game if they’re only watching a game they dislike, perhaps against their will even as part of their job, and only want it to end asap so that they can do something they find more enjoyable. That attitude just screams “I don’t like this sport” to me, so why even bother watching, why even bother to pursue an interest in something that clearly doesn’t interest you?

  4. What accounts for the increase over the past 30 years?

    I feel like we always jump to creating a “pitch clock” as the proposed solution, but I have no idea whether that’s really what has caused the average time to increase. Also, I have never heard a proposal for a pitch clock that didn’t seem like it would ruin the game in other ways (e.g. causing a pitcher to hurry and throw a worse pitch). Lastly, how do we know that shaving 10-15 minutes off the game is going to reengage younger generations? If they don’t like baseball they don’t like baseball. Video games and iPads are not suddenly going to be less attractive to the masses as alternative forms of entertainment.

  5. The game has become interminable. Who has 4 or even 3 hours of time to slog through these games. Probably no work around for the commercial time out between inning, but the delay between pitches is easily solved. Give the umpire a hand held timer. It will signal 20 seconds after the catcher returns the ball to the pitcher. A strike will be called if the hitter is not in the batters box ready to hit (enough with the batting glove adjustments already!). A ball will be called if the pitcher is not on the rubber ready to throw the pitch.

    • Steve:

      Who has time to watch an NFL game that last 3 1/2 hours?

      I’ll wait for you to answer that one.

      Back to my original point, why is it a “issue” for baseball but not for football?

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