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Sports

October 31, 2013

As the World Series ends, let's consider shortening games

(Continued)

It’s difficult to imagine the Great Bambino attempting to steal a base, let alone one in such a crucial moment. But he did, and he failed.

In reviewing box scores from long, long ago I marveled at how much information could be retrieved with just a few key strokes. I also was shocked at how much the National Pastime had changed. In short, today’s games are starting much later and definitely lasting much longer.

In 1926, it took just a grand total of about 15 hours to play seven games – with three finishing between 1 hour, 41 minutes and 1 hour, 48 minutes. The longest in the set was 2:38.  

This year, six games took nearly 20 hours to complete. Five games lasted more than three hours – the two longest being 3:54 and 3:34 – and only one was played in less than three, clocking in at 2:52.

Some would quickly point out the comparison is one of apples and oranges, which would be somewhat true. While television and radio broadcasts make the games available to more fans, the never-ending string of commercials has made them seem interminably long.

Another major time-consuming change involves use of relief pitchers. Back in ’26, the Cardinals recorded five complete games and had only 12 different appearances by its pitching staff in seven games. The Yankees, meanwhile, had two complete games and its staff had a total of 16 appearances.

In 2013, there were no complete games. St. Louis’ staff had a combined 30 appearances, compared to 26 for Boston.

Changing pitchers and allowing them time to warm up gobbles up a lot of time, a trend that is unlikely to be reversed. Today’s starters, if all goes well, get about 100 pitchers and their night is over.

Batters are at fault as well with their extended gyrations – oftentimes displayed after each pitch to the plate. How boring.

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