Scoggins: Baseball games taking so much longer these days

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2014 - 12:44 AM

Mark Buehrle pitches like he’s parked at a two-hour meter. He works faster than someone at a speed-dating party.

Unfortunately, he’s more the exception than rule in Major League Baseball these days. And that drives him bonkers.

“It’s annoying how long some of these games are,” he said.

The length of games and pace of play in Major League Baseball remains a teeth-gnashing subject for many fans, media and, yes, even some players. Go to any ballpark in any MLB city on a typical night and you’ll likely hear someone complain about HOW LONG THIS STINKING GAME IS TAKING!

The average time of game this season is 3:02, according to MLB. That’s roughly 15 minutes longer than the average game time in 2004.

Sports Illustrated dug deeper and found that games have added more than 29 minutes of “dead time” in the past 10 years, based on a calculation of time in between balls put in play.

Pitchers stroll around the mound between pitches. Batters step out of the box after every pitch. Catchers visit the mound like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. Managers use their bullpens freely.

A 3½-hour baseball game can feel like an eternity, especially during the school year.

“I hear it from our own team,” said Buehrle, one of MLB’s fastest workers. “Obviously media and fans are like guys on our team saying these games are too long.”

Not everyone shares Buehrle’s perspective, even among his peers. In fact, a poll of 27 all-stars from both leagues on Monday revealed a wide spectrum of opinions on this subject. In particular, three themes emerged:

A. Games take too long.

B: The pace of games is perfect.

C: What’s the big deal?

A sampling of responses:

“Three-hour games kind of drive you crazy, let’s be honest,” San Francisco pitcher Tim Hudson said. “A pretty good clip for a big-league game should be around 2½ hours.”

“Let’s not be in a rush,” San Diego pitcher Huston Street said. “You don’t go to the park or zoo and say, ‘Let’s get out of here as quick as we can.’ You’re coming to be entertained. The longer the entertainment lasts, I would think that’s better.”

“Nothing you can do about it,” Pittsburgh’s MVP Andrew McCutchen said. “I think people are still going to watch if they’re baseball fans.”

He’s right there. Baseball’s popularity remains strong, attendance figures healthy. Yet a few all-stars offered suggestions that might speed up games and make them even more palatable for all fans.

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