Monday, November 01, 2021

Shorter is better

A baseball game should not take 4 hours unless it goes into the 16th inning.  But this playoff season has seen mostly 4 hour games.  That’s insane!   The NL Wild Card game between the Dodgers and Cardinals took almost 4 1/2 hours and the score was tied 1-1 until Chris Taylor hit a walk-off home run.  That’s beyond insane.

Game One of the World Series took well over 4 hours and the Braves were leading 5-0 by the third inning.  For the next THREE HOURS nothing really happened.  Last night's game took 4 hours.

You could blame the added commercials.  That’s a factor but not the major one.  It adds about 18 minutes to a game.  But then there are all the pitching changes, even with the new rules where pitchers must face three batters.  Managers still manage to throw ten pitchers out there a game.  In the case of the World Series, Dusty Baker can add 18 minutes himself just by walking out to the mound.  And batters now take five minutes between every pitch to adjust their batting gloves. 

Another problem is all the in-game challenges.  On the one hand, it’s good to get the calls right.  Too much is at stake.  But on the other, baseball has assigned some of the worst umpires to officiate these games.  Angel Hernandez, Laz Diaz, Tom Hallion —these guys should never be permitted to step on the field during a playoff game.  They blow calls that result in challenges where most of the time their calls are overturned (because they’re terrible).  Behind the plate they're a disaster. 

Major League Baseball has a big problem.  When the audience is bored by your crown jewel, when you turn off fans who only watch the playoffs, when people on the east coast can’t see the end of the game if they can’t stay up till 1 am, when kids and the future generation of fans can’t stay up past the second inning  - you’re shooting yourself in the foot.  

I’m a huge baseball fan.  I used to hang on every pitch during the playoffs.  I would cancel appointments to be in front of the TV.   Now I’m surfing the net, writing blog posts, and turning it off because JEOPARDY is on.  So if MLB can’t even keep ME… 

The new warning for Cialis should be "If you have an erection that lasts the length of a baseball game, go to the emergency room." 


Bryan said...

I've noticed this as well. Baseball is my all-time favorite sport, but I admit to changing the channel for a while in these latest games.

Dana King said...

I couldn't agree more. I've been a seamhead all my life - my first conscious memory is hearing on the car radio Bill Mazeroski's homer run to win the 1960 series. I haven't watched the playoffs at all, and have tuned into the last few innings of Games 4 & 5. (You Tube TV lets me catch the "key plays" then watch live if I join late.) The games are just too tedious, and no one connected with baseball seems to care. When they start turning off ife-long fans such as myself, the game's in trouble.

15-Seconds said...

Really long time baseball traditionalist here with a radical suggestion. What is the biggest time waster in baseball games? Pitcher staring in at the catcher...watching the catcher flash signs...pitcher shakes him off...catcher flashes another sign...maybe another shake off. Then a man on second pitcher looks in his hat for alternative signs. Catcher looks at wrist flap. They are on another page...catcher walks out to mound and whispers...fastball dummy!

My fix...if coaches can communicate with QBs in football...give pitchers catchers (and maybe middle infielders) ear pieces. Manager has encrypted laptop (sponsorship opportunity!) types in code for slider down and away. Pitcher unlikely to shake off manager. Playball. We save at least a half hour a game.

Don't tell me it is too hard technologically - get Big Papi's crypto currency friends to work it out.

Brian Phillips said...

Per your Cialis warning, to quote the late Shelley Berman, "...I'll rent it out!"

Tim Baughman said...

I believe a great deal of it is all the batter adjustments between pitches. Remember Mike Hargrove, the human rain delay? No stepping out unless hit by foul ball. I used to go to games pitched by Denny McLain and Mark Fidrych in under 2 hours. Batters stayed in box, pitchers got the ball and threw another pitch, and the game moved along.

KLA 83 said...

Are you familiar with the phrase "killing the goose that laid the golden egg?"

Check out this website for average game times going back, back, back, year by year
For 2021: 3 hours 11 minutes
For 1971: 2 hours 29 minutes

Put in a pitch clock, reduce the schedule to 154 games, trim the number of playoff games and have the World Series end by Columbus Day. I wonder who won the ratings war Sunday night? The World Series or a routine NFL game?

Jeff said...

"No stepping out unless hit by foul ball."

I am not sure I follow this one.

DwWashburn said...

The pitching changes last night were mainly a result of the Braves having to play a bullpen game because the Astros broke the leg of the Braves' ace.

You're also overlooking that 81 players went to the plate last night. High run scores and lots of men left on base takes time. Friday's game had more pitching changes because both teams had bullpen games but it finished 15 minutes earlier because only 5 runs were scored.

I do agree that the home plate umps have been terrible. I wish there was a way to hold them accountable and either limit the number of games they call or let them go. There are tons of umps in the minors that would love their jobs.

Mike Schryver said...

The video reviews are a huge part of the added time, more than most people realize. It's not just the challenges that are made, it's the extra 30 seconds after every close play while a manager is waiting for a call from the video room on whether to challenge.

It's not worth it.

Michael said...

I live on the east coast and the only post-season games I watch even part of are the early round games that start around 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM my time, where I will watch later innings if close game. I don't bother trying to even watch beginning of games that start after 8:00 PM, knowing I won't be around for the end. Of course, might be different story if my favorite team was playing.

blinky said...

Credibility is the biggest problem for me. Everybody can see the strike zone and we can see when the umpire misses the call. The idea that each umpire has "their own" strike zone is ridiculous. (See Angel Hernandez for example) What if in football a touchdown was up to the ref whether it crossed the goal line or came pretty close. I don't think anybody would stand for that.
There was a columnist in either the Washington Post or the New York Times writing about automated calls and strikes and his argument was that an important part of the game is the catcher can "frame" a pitch and make it a strike even if it wasn't. I think that would be called cheating or deception. Not part of the game I want to watch.
I guess it'll take a ninth inning last out ball being called a strike that ends the game to make any kind of substantive changes.

Tim Baughman said...

“No stepping out unless hit by foul ball.” Sorry, I wasn’t very clear—I mean something like fouling a ball off your foot, or other body part, where some recovery time might be needed.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm lucky this year. I don't like either team and haven't watched a game yet.

MikeKPa. said...

the score was tied 1-1 until -- future Phillie OF -- Chris Taylor hit a walk-off home run.

Fred Vogel said...

Adjusting the batting gloves after every pitch, even if the batter hasn't swung, bugs the heck out of me.

thomas tucker said...

KLA83 for Commissioner.

Dave Logan said...

You can add “endless useless analysis” to the list of irritations plaguing baseball PBP broadcasts.

ventucky said...

My pet peeve is reviewing slide call that by the naked eye appear to be correct. Now infielders try to keep the glove on the runner far after he slides, just in case he is 1/4,000 of an inch off the bag for 3.1 milliseconds. Before replay infielders didn't hold a tag until the runner asked for time so he could stand up and be safe. After over a hundred years of phantom tags at second in a double play being ok, some sliding players butt bounces off the bag after he is safe and they analyze it to death, just looking for a problem.

Michael said...

Ooooh, this is in my wheelhouse.

First, umpires. There always have been bad ones. But here's an interesting tidbit. Consistently, in polling, the highest-rated plate umpires--or close to the top--in the NL and AL at one time were Lee Weyer and Ed Runge, who had something in common: GINORMOUS strike zones. The joke about Runge was that his strike zone was dugout to dugout. But here's the thing: They also rated Doug Harvey among the best, and he required the ball to hit that zone. Why? Because of the most important thing about any umpire's strike zone: Consistency. Hernandez is a great example of an umpire whose strike zone travels more than lost luggage. That's a big part of the problem there. Yes, Eric Gregg got ridiculous in that playoff game. That was beyond the pale. But for the most part, the best ones simply call every pitch the same way.

Time of game. If MLB made some rules, the umpires know that Manfred the Miniature wouldn't back them. Years ago, there was a big fight about a new balk rule and Al Barlick, one of the best ever, walked out and went home, saying if the league wasn't going to back him, he wasn't going to umpire. They changed the rule.

I think Ken is right, but I am going to mention one other thing, and I don't really mean it as a criticism: The announcers. Joe Buck is a fine play-by-play broadcaster, but he isn't colorful (his book is--he should let out more of that side of himself). John Smoltz is so easily parodied that it's ridiculous. Think back to the 1980s: Vin and Joe, Bob and Tony, Al/Jim/Tim. They made it sing.

Jeff Boice said...

KLA 83: The NFL game won- by half a million viewers. That's according to the early numbers.

You can go to
and see the ratings for every World Series game going back to 1972. Its not a pretty story.

YEKIMI said...

Stumbled across the game last night while channel surfing. Watched for about 1-1 1/2 inning. Turned it off when the Houston Cheaters pulled ahead. Ended up watching something a little more infomercial, the dog licking itself, water dripping from my kitchen faucet. Then went and did laundry.

Mike O. said...

I've been playing baseball since I was 4, still do in an adult league. A pitching change shouldn't require the manager to saunter onto the field, and then hold a staff meeting on the mound. Put a call into the bullpen, yell out to the umpire and pitcher, "We're making a change." The old pitcher runs, the new one takes his place, and you're done. Maybe allow the catcher and pitcher 30 seconds to talk strategy, but that's it.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I am one of the aforementioned "fans who only watch the playoffs." I have never been a baseball fan. And since the Dodgers were eliminated I really don't care about the World Series. These long games don't help either. Imagine actually being at the game. At least watching at home you can get up, walk around and see what's on other channels. Plus, you can drink a whole six-pack for the cost of one stadium beer. Although, I won't lie to you. If someone gave me World Series tickets I would go and be grateful.
As for the length of the games, it reminds me of the "Seinfeld" episode where they're talking about faking orgasms. "It's enough already and you just want to get some sleep."


Anonymous said...

I wasn't bored but I've fallen asleep before the end of every game so far. Last night's was especially disappointing because it looks like I missed quite the turnaround. I'm only really invested in this sport so I can root against Houston. I can't believe they are allowed to play at all after what they did.

Vincent said...

I'm watching because I love baseball, though I admit I'd love it even more if my Washington Nationals were in the Series -- then again, we'll always have 2019, and by 2024 Mike Rizzo should have the Nats back in contention after this year's mid-season moves.

Too bad the American mindset has irrevocably shifted towards pro football, which now bores me since it's become way too much a quarterbacks' game. (As a Syracuse native born and raised during the glory days of SU football at old Archbold Stadium, I appreciate the artistry of great running backs, just as I wish today's baseball better balanced power and speed, with more doubles and triples and fewer walks and strikeouts.)

Well, now to relax myself by watching "Bob [Hearts] Abishola," network TV's best multi-cam.

Breadbaker said...

It was 4-1 in the top of the second when I put the game on the radio to start up my charcoal barbecue on a cold night. It took half an hour to get to temperature. It took about 20 minutes to grill. Then five minutes rest, then we ate. After that, I turned the game on and it was the bottom of the fourth. Whatever the reason or reasons, that's too slow.

Fred said...

Broadcast Ratings have plummeted for most
Live events


Regular/PostSeason Ratings for MLB might more closely approach
those of NFL’s if MLB played as few—or fewer— games
Little chance of this happening in regular season, if only because of
codgers’ fetish for MLB season/career statistics, yet should be implemented in the postseason

Regular/PostSeason Ratings for MLB might Improve if
MLB were less white
Professional Baseball Player Statistics By Race
White, 81.2%
Hispanic or Latino, 8.9%
Black or African American, 6.8%
Asian, 2.2%
Unknown, 1.0%
American Indian and Alaska Native, -0.1%
Sep 9, 2021

Playoff/World Serious Ratings Would Slightly Revive if
MLB Strictly Limited in length and availability the post-game broadcast/online clips

Playoff/World Serious Ratings Would Vastly Expand if MLB had
Youngish Diverse Major Music Acts Perform During Seventh Innings —
Fewer would mind game lengths if the games became major events

“Over the past 10 seasons, the average length of the Super Bowl was about three hours and 39 minutes. Feb 7, 202

Tyler said...

Here's my proposed rule, which I know will never happen (and maybe it shouldn't)...

Every relief pitcher MUST finish his half an inning. Only the starting pitcher can be removed in the middle of an inning without getting 3 outs. Every other pitching change must take place between innings, so that the game doesn't stop for it.

Also, the manager gets one mound visit per game, and it must be with the starting pitcher.

I know it's not perfect, and doesn't account for things like a relief pitcher being injured and unable to continue, like from being hit by a line drive or something. Maybe in that case he must be replaced by a position player for the rest of the inning who is then allowed to return to his position the next inning, I don't know.

Also, a pitch clock. I know the players hate it, but it just has to be done at this point.

Rich Shealer said...

I used to love baseball. That's how I found Ken in the first place.

Then they went on strike. I know it's a lifetime ago. But when I saw that the World Series wasn't all that important to them, why should it be to me?

So I haven't seen many games since then. I was lucky enough to be given a ticket and be present at Cal Ripken's record breaker and his last game. I haven't brought a ticket since the strike.

Overall I had more free time and haven't missed it.

scottmc said...

Monday-Friday the Decades Channel broadcasts back to back episodes of CHEERS.They recently flipped from the final season to the first.(I never noticed before that Rebecca's final line in the show was how it was her goal to marry Trump but she ended up with 'Ed Norton'.)
There is an episode early in Season One where they discuss one of Sam's worst outings as a pitcher. Coach describes how Sam gave up a 400 foot home run. He made it seem like a 'Ruthian' blast. Today,even the utility shortstop can hit the ball that far.
I find myself in agreement with many of the comments that this post generated. I would just add that the 'home run or strike out' approach has also impacted the game. You rarely see a quick three up/three down inning. You see fewer and fewer triples.(Those are more exciting than a fly ball into the seats.)
Managers don't let starting pitchers go a third time through the lineup.
If a pitcher gives up a couple of hits, walks one or two and his infielder commits an error he could be pulled in the 4th or 5th inning without having given up a run.
(A word about the first episode of CHEERS, the line about Coach finally finishing his book after so many years still makes me laugh.)

Milton the Momzer said...

Why do they adjust batting gloves? They're VELCRO. They don't loosen. It's just a stall

Vincent said...

Sorry, Fred, but no seventh-inning rap, hip-hop or whatever it's called now. Want to appeal to black audiences without alienating whites? Then focus on rhythm and blues, whether it be Motown or southern soul (Stax).

Mitch said...

Rich, I'm with you. After the strike many years ago, I gave up on baseball. Will catch a game if I can afford a ticket and the $75 for a hot dog and beer.
But what was interesting, during the strike, in Chicago a big star for the White Sox was having a home built, but without union labor. So what is good for the goose wasn't good for the gander.
I also knew a beer seller at games, and he suffered, WAY more than any baseball player

Mike Barer said...

I watched one game of the World Series this year. I just didn't care for either team.
Remember when the World Series was bigger than the Super Bowl? Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if exhitbition NFL games get better ratings than the WS.