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Why baseball games are so damned long?

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I love baseball and I love statistics and analysis. Imagine my joy at reading this..... lol

Why are baseball games so long now? This article compared a game in 1984 and one in 2014 - same final score, same # of pitchers and pitching changes, almost the same # of pitches. Game times differed by over a half hour. Why?

https://www.sbnation.com/a/mlb-2017-season-preview/game-length

Here's the summary quote:

"Time between pitches is the primary villain. I tallied up all the pitches in both games that we’ll call inaction pitches — pitches ... where the catcher caught the ball and threw it back to the pitcher, whose next step was to throw it back to the catcher. ...

There were 146 inaction pitches in the 1984 game.
There were 144 of these pitches in the 2014 game.

The total time for the inaction pitches in 1984 — the elapsed time between a pitcher releasing one pitch and his release of the next pitch — was 32 minutes and 47 seconds.

The total time for inaction pitches in 2014 was 57 minutes and 41 seconds.

... This, plus the modest difference in commercial breaks, explains nearly everything. It took nine seconds longer for a pitcher to get rid of the ball in 2014."

That's an aggregation effect. One very minor detail, not egregious unto itself, but repeated enough times, it has a large overall effect.

 

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Makes a lot of sense, but what could be done to combat those extra few seconds other than asking nicely that pitchers try their best to speed it up?

Taking your numbers:

1984  -  13.47 sec in between each inaction pitch

2014 -  24.03 sec in between

10+ sec is quite a long time, but not so long in itself where I could see a good way of enforcing a speed up. Perhaps yearly MLB bonuses in relation to the time the pitcher saves throughout the season... lol. I suppose it's not only the pitchers fault tho.

 

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Heh,

 

At my level its a combination of talent and being able to get the catcher out of the dugout at the exchange

been thru 2 yrs of district level all stars at the base

1st year behind the plate and at the town level of play

District games go fairly well and they seem to know the catcher needs to be ready to get out there and catch warm ups.  Its been good all three years that I have seen that.

town level of play  .. /gag..  4 to 5 minutes between changes because the catcher was on base at the time of the last out. 

errors galore which takes more time on the game.

we struggle hard to get 6 innings in before the time unless its really lopsided and a team gets 10-runned at 4 but whoo

did a full 6 inning game in 1hr 10 min yesterday thought it went nicely and the thing was the pitching I only sent 2 players all game to 1st on walks.  Score I think in the end HT walked off at the bottom of the 6th  7-6?  

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As an analyst, I'm not using one game as my sample size. There's no doubt games are longer. But to take one game and compare it to one game is not significant. Yes, the pitch count was the same, the score was the same, the number of pitchers was the same.

But, was the number of strikeouts? The number of hits? The number of runners? Walks? Errors? Any injuries? Reviews? What about pick-offs?

So much goes into the length of a game. You can't pluck a red apple from one bushel and another red apple of the same size from a different bushel and instantly make a comparison of all the other apples, nor an expectation of how many seeds or worms are inside.

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In my only-somewhat facetious view, the two biggest problems are (1) batters stepping out after every pitch, unstrapping both batting gloves, re-strapping them, and then looking down at the 3d base coach, and (2) catchers looking into the dugout for the coach's signal, then looking down at their forearm cheat sheet, then relaying the sign to the pitcher--and, voila, you've easily added about 30 minutes to the event!

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15 minutes ago, yawetag said:

As an analyst, I'm not using one game as my sample size. There's no doubt games are longer. But to take one game and compare it to one game is not significant. Yes, the pitch count was the same, the score was the same, the number of pitchers was the same.

But, was the number of strikeouts? The number of hits? The number of runners? Walks? Errors? Any injuries? Reviews? What about pick-offs?

So much goes into the length of a game. You can't pluck a red apple from one bushel and another red apple of the same size from a different bushel and instantly make a comparison of all the other apples, nor an expectation of how many seeds or worms are inside.

The part I found interesting was the time in between the inaction pitches, and I think that's a pretty fair comparison (regardless of everything else that happened in the game). One game is still crazy to get caught up on though, as the 1984 pitcher might have just been a guy who likes to work fast compared to the 2014. Sample size definitely too small, but I would be interested in someone just looking at those inaction pitches with a 50+ game sample size... ain't gonna be me though.

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I believe, as opposed to not believe, that there have been studies that show the longer a pitcher takes to throw the next pitch, allows the arm a longer time to recuperate from the strain of the previous pitch. And with the strain of everyone throwing 96+, every second of recuperation allows for less strain and possible injury to the arm over time.

now if you can remember when time between innings was about 60 seconds and you might miss the first pitch after the commercial, from what I have been told from yesteryear, and think about todays 2:20-2:40 on special games extrapolated, there  goes a lot of time but I don't know about 1984 to now.

I would say money ball and nobody coming to the plate hacking like the old days (you can't walk to the big leagues son, take that bat off your shoulder), to purposely go deep in the count with every stinking batter, to get into the bullpen and get rid of the starter on pitch counts and bringing in 4 relievers instead of just 1 in the 9th or maybe that one guy for both the 8th and 9th has had a profound effect. Also due to deep counts and more  guys throwing 96+ there are more foul balls IMHO because of not getting around on that fastball. And don't forget the dh in AL added time when most pitchers had been a quick out, even when they where bunting on that first pitch.

Also no replay and no hold ons Just to decide if you want to go to the headsets.

Just some thoughts, but what do I know.

 

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In high school, in my area, it is coaches calling all of the pitches from the dugouts.  It takes forever.

 

Also, as already mentioned, the offensive coaches and the wrist bands.  OMG, just step in and get a hit for goodness sakes!

 

I wish the NFHS would go to coaches, catchers and pitchers getting the pitches electronically.  :D

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Speaking of long baseball games, the first inning of today's Yankees/Red Sox game took an hour.  6-6 after one!

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6 hours ago, catsbackr said:

In high school, in my area, it is coaches calling all of the pitches from the dugouts.  It takes forever.

 

Also, as already mentioned, the offensive coaches and the wrist bands.  OMG, just step in and get a hit for goodness sakes!

 

I wish the NFHS would go to coaches, catchers and pitchers getting the pitches electronically.  :D

 

Better yet, computerized coaches who will never get anything wrong!

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So you say you want to speed up baseball games?  Here is a radical solution that won’t have an impact for many years (but will work):

A Constitutional Amendment outlawing 2 hour time limits for youth baseball games; 1:15 mandatory (1:30 max).

You tell a youth softball team they have a 1:15 time limit and they will hustle to play anywhere from 4 to 7 innings depending on the skill level.  You give a boy’s baseball team of the same age a 2:00 time limit and the coach thinks that is a mandatory 2 hour minimum.  He will milk every damned second and still only get 3 innings in.

Eventually that sped up culture will work its way up.

 

:D

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I have several culprits First, I will put the blame on TV. I believe (I'm not going to steal your line @dumbdumb this time) the average college game takes far less time than a MLB. The difference is TV.  

Next time between pitches is too long and seems to get longer the lower down the food chain you go.

Third, inept baseball. Bad baseball at any level equals long games. Prime example, look at my ECU pirates in the super regional.

  • Good team + playing poorly = long game
  • Bad team + playing poorly = long game ^2
  • A great low scoring game can get a full 9 innings in in an hour and a half. 

Finally, for the lower levels, I have 2 items. Time wasted tying shoes. And pitchers & catchers taking too long screwing around with baserunners.

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It probably doesn't statistically add up to much, but my pet peeve is the catchers giving "1st and 3rd" signals that could land an airplane.

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Time between innings in travel ball is rarely a minute. It’s always taking the catcher forever to get out, even if someone catches him - after I remind them too. I really don’t understand what takes them so long to get dressed. I can put on my shin guards and chest protestor in maybe 30 seconds. 

So you’re either that guy and count to a minute, or you try to be reasonable and work with them as best you can. But teams that are slow coming out an entire game can add 10-15 minutes to a game. That’s significant. It needs to become a hard, fast, and “OK to enforce” rule that it’s a minute. You get no pitches, one pitch, too bad. Make it a POE in HS baseball (not as big of a problem here) and write it into the tournament rules so people realize it’s a rule and will be strictly enforced. 

Outside of that, summer ball should be 1:30 or 1:40 time limits. They’ll play faster. And if they don’t? OK, we played 6 innings. Or 5. Who cares? 

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15 hours ago, kylehutson said:

It probably doesn't statistically add up to much, but my pet peeve is the catchers giving "1st and 3rd" signals that could land an airplane.

Most of which they can't defend anyway.

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I've had a couple kids that go thru a 25 second ritual after they enter the box to hit. This is after taking 20-30 seconds to get the signs. Both teams get warned, then I start calling strikes. 

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On 7/11/2019 at 5:06 PM, Mister B said:

I've had a couple kids that go thru a 25 second ritual after they enter the box to hit. This is after taking 20-30 seconds to get the signs. Both teams get warned, then I start calling strikes. 

I used to give time almost every time it was requested, unless the pitcher was already delivering. I stopped it this year. Run into a couple issues and have called 4 or 5 strikes on guys stepping out, but so be it. You’ll learn to not just back out of the box when you say time (and I say no) and you’ll put your other hand on the bat instead of showing me your palm for ten seconds. 

Unless there is a good reason for time in the box, I don’t call it. Get in the box and hit. It’s a 1-1 pitch with no one on. You don’t need time. Few issues, but plenty of “no” and they stay in and get ready to hit, so in the long run I think it has helped. Some teams will try to slow down a pitcher with good pace. No. Why should we let you slow down a pitcher that gets it and throws it? 

They get cheered for time. “Yeah, your box”. No, it’s my box. 

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