Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Speed it up!

For years now, fans have complained that Major League Baseball games flat-out last too long. Those complaints fell upon deaf ears, to the point that three-hour ballgames are common. Last fall, a World Series game going the regulation nine innings stretched past the four-hour mark.

Back in the Deadball Era, the period (1900-19) covered by most of my baseball research, it was typical for major league games to zip by in 90 to 120 minutes. In the early 20th century, when the average major league game exceeded two hours, the Powers That Be expressed concern and endeavored to pick up the pace.

Today, time for extra TV commercials and the numerous pitching changes -- 50 and more years ago, pitchers were expected to finish what they started -- have extended the contests. Not much will be done about that. But all the machinations of the ballplayers -- ie, fixing batting gloves before every single pitch -- and prolonged conferences on the mound are dragging out games.

Finally, MLB appears to be showing some concern. In a statement today, MLB revealed that it had a conference call involving the principals -- umpires, managers, etc. -- to discussing picking up the pace.

Let's hope this works!

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