In the past week alone, the Boston Red Sox have played two different fifteen inning games; one they lost to the Yankees and one they defeated the the Blue Jays. Both games went well into the night (or morning, if you will) and there were very few people left to watch. It’s not uncommon for a Red Sox, Yankees games to come close or surpass four hours, it’s expected at this point. The problem is that no one wants to watch a baseball game for that long. Back when baseball was the King of American sports, sure people would watch an entire game, but now, the times have changed, and the MLB needs to catch up.
There are a million ways baseball could change to shorten the time; the problem boils down to this. Baseball is a sport referred to as “America’s Pastime, ” and nobody wants to change it. It’s insane. Little things like a bat flip send people into a frenzy because they are “making a mockery” of the game or are being “disrespectful.” It’s not either of those things; it’s showmanship. That what professional sports are all about these days. Guys in the NBA have their unique celebrations for making a three or for making a big shot and people love that. The fans want to see the players be themselves and have fun. The baseball crowd does not want to see that. If baseball can’t adapt to the little things like celebrations how are they going to change the game for the better and shorten the game length?
The Average Game Length
The time it takes to complete an MLB game takes just over three hours to complete. The average NBA game takes just under two and a half hours. The average NFL game takes roughly three hours. You may say, so what’s the problem? Those games aren’t that much shorter. One of the biggest differences is both of those sports have fifteen-minute half times; baseball does not.
Inning breaks in baseball and quarter breaks plus timeouts in football and basketball probably even themselves out throughout the game, but the NBA is even doing things to speed up their game, and it is a lot faster than the MLB. The NBA has decreased the amounts of timeouts teams get during a game. It is a simple change, but it is effective. The bottom line here is, the MLB has the longest game time and the least amount of action. The action might not change, but the time needs to.
Love It Or Hate It, Change Is Needed
So what if the MLB made a change that made a half inning 10 minutes OR three outs, whichever comes first? Would that ruin the game? It is understandable how taking away all three outs could destroy it, but the premise of the game is still there. It actually might make it a little more entertaining. If the team batting knows time is almost up they may be a bit more aggressive with their approach. If you wanted action in baseball, actually removing outs would give you that. Teams would be WAY more aggressive for the entire inning, but we all know the baseball purists would have me locked up for even suggesting that.
Extra innings needs a complete overhaul. Fifteen inning games ending at 1:30 am (really?). Even Dennis Eckersley openly makes it known he doesn’t want to be there anymore, and he’s a baseball junky!
Tom Caron too!
So, here is another proposal. Every inning of extra innings, each team should start with a runner on second. There are probably a lot of angry people here reading this, but why not? Essentially, it’s just like college football overtime where they start on the opposing teams 25-yard line. The action begins immediately, the chances of scoring are that much higher. Most importantly, the game will end much faster all while being more entertaining. Just some food for thought.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the MLB has a major problem in that they refuse to change and adapt their game in any way and if they don’t start to make changes now, they risk losing their fans if they haven’t started losing them already.