The Real Problem When it Comes to the Length of Baseball Games

Is it really the players' fault?

length of baseball games pace of play

In recent years, we have seen the MLB start cracking down on the pace of play to decrease the length of baseball games.

Baseball’s slow, relaxed pace just wasn’t cutting it for mostly all fans, old-school and new-school. It seemed that watching a whole nine innings was nearly impossible, as sitting on a couch glued to your TV for a full 3+ hour length of baseball games is more painful than being an Atlanta Braves fan.

Last season, we saw the MLB attempt at shortening the game – and it worked! According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, games were shortened by an average of 8 minutes from the 2014 season to the 2015 season. The actions they took in order to do so included new rules brought into immediate effect, such as batters keeping a foot in the batter’s box during an at bat, and a clock timing both manager visits and the warming up of pitchers. They also say that the time between pitches should be shortened and timed, but let’s be real, nobody enforces it.

One of the more major rules the MLB has put into place is the ability for a manager to challenge certain calls on the field. This was an attempt to shorten play by limiting those manager-umpire arguments that could last what seemed like forever. However, many fans across the league see a problem with these official reviews, including me.

When a controversial play occurred in a game, we used to be expecting a long argument from the manager from the team who thought the umpire missed a call. Honestly, growing up as a Red Sox fan where tempers are known to flare, this could be one of the most entertaining parts of the game. Seeing a manager lose his shit on an umpire just seemed like a part of baseball.

Now, when we see a controversial play, we see the teams manager stand on the top step as he awaits word on whether to challenge or not. If he decides to, he will calmly walk out to the umpire and ask for a review. Then, the umpires will gather and put on a headset as fans are forced to watch the play over and over for upwards of five minutes. Where’s the fun in that?

The thing that makes fans most upset is that this was a whole part of speeding up baseball games, yet it now takes the same amount of time, maybe even longer, to review these plays. Fans would be much more entertained if the MLB took the much more fun route of letting coaches lose it in the middle of the games.

Look at it this way; would you rather spend five minutes watching this over and over:

A close play at the plate during a Red Sox-Rays game

Or spend that same time watching this:

Joe Girardi giving an umpire nightmares

All in all, I think that the long reviews are ultimately hurting baseball. Although they are the reason many calls have been reversed correctly, the time that they consume is too much and is a bore for fans watching. Plus, what ever happened to the umpire’s blind eye judgement ever being a factor in a game anymore?