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01/17/2014

How an MLB game just grew longer

Just when you thought a Major League Baseball game could not possibly last any longer, the good people in Bud's office - all in the name of getting it right - have decided to make the trip to the ballyard into a viewing of The Godfather Part I, II and III all in the same night.

Trailing only the NFL, NBA and NHL, baseball has adopted the use of limited TV replay, which was approved by a 30-0 margin. Like you, I did not realize the Houston Astros still get a vote.

Sleep4Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington told the Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson: "I think they’re trying to get things right, and if that can help get things right, then I’m all for it. I just want the right call."

Everyone can agree that no one wants a system where the wrong call is allowed when the right call can be had.

The rub is that TV replay will add even more time to a game that simply takes too long for a season that features 162 regular season evenings of ball.

In this comprehensive story by the Boston Globe published last year, the average length of a Major League game lasts now just under three hours.

That is insanely stupid.

It is one thing to ask a football fan to sit through a game that lasts three to four hours once a week.
It is quite another to ask a baseball fan to sit through a game that takes as long as a football game, 162 times a year. Excluding spring training. Excluding postseason games, which last even longer.

Batter-warm-up-1The problem is the money is so high that everyone involved has to make absolutely sure of every single thing they do, from their routine in the on deck circle, to minor pitching changes made in the middle of the eighth inning of a 10-3 game in May.

For the owners, who cares? The longer you are at the game, more the Cokes, beer and food you buy.
For the TV execs, great. The longer the live programming, the more opportunities for you to watch commercials.
For the players and managers involved, they don't care how long it takes because this is their gig.
For the fans who have lives to lead, it's a problem if they want to stick around and watch all nine innings. Especially if they have kids on a school night.

Until the league meets with TV people, the umpires and the player's union in an effort to cut out some of the many wasted seconds and minutes of a regular season game, we should just all embrace the baseball is football.

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