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August 28, 2014

Skewed Left

A Three-Hour Tour

by Zachary Levine


At the heart of the biggest conversation going on in baseball right now, there is one conversation we’re not having.

We hear all about the games being too long. It’s item 1 or 2 on every listicle in the wake of Rob Manfred’s ascent to commissioner-in-waitingness. It's the subject of countless hot takes (3 balls! 7 innings! No mound visits!). It’s the subject of countless lukewarm takes that don’t deserve exclamation points (just enforce the rules on pitchers). And it often gets spliced with the discussion on pace of game, which would be a worthy one were not all the evidence presented in the form of game length.

But as we discuss this back and forth and back and forth, there’s one thing missing from the conversation: Nobody’s really talking about how long games should be.

And I mean what I say: a serious conversation about how long games really should be, not how long they used to be. That’s one direction this always goes. Another direction is to look at other sports, and if the popularity of sports on this list tells you anything about where baseball should try to align itself, that’s a credit to your inference ability over mine:

  • Golf: 4 1/2 hours
  • College football: 3 1/2 hours
  • Stock car racing: 3 1/2 hours
  • Pro football: 3 hours
  • Pro hockey: 2 1/2 hours
  • Men’s tennis: 2 1/2 hours
  • Pro basketball: 2 1/2 hours
  • College basketball: 2 hours
  • Pro soccer: 2 hours
  • Boxing: 1 hour
  • Horse racing: 2 minutes

So not a look at other sports and especially not a comparison with how long games used to be, but a really stripped-down look at how long games should be. If we were writing the rules from scratch and given the current media climate and tastes of the consumers, how long should baseball games be?

As strange as it is to think about 140 years into what we think of as baseball, there is some precedent for considering this question, precedent in a place that has some reputation for eschewing convention.

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<< Previous Article
Eyewitness Accounts: A... (08/28)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Skewed Left: Saber Sem... (08/21)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Billy... (09/05)
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Premium Article Moonshot: On Regressin... (08/28)

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