Someone finally did a little investigating into why baseball games go so long. The length of games is a reason why I'd never want to have season tickets and feel obligated to attend all those games. At least watching at home gives you an option to read something while watching or taking a time out to walk the dog, make dinner, whatever. At the stadium you're kind of stuck in your seat beyond bathroom breaks.
Grant Brisbee, a writer for SB Nation, a sports website, compiled a comparison to two very similar games, one from 1984 and the other from 2014. The data looked like this:
On April 13, 1984, the Mets played the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The home team won, 11-2. Both teams combined to throw 270 pitches. Both teams combined to allow 27 baserunners, and 74 batters came to the plate. There was exactly one mid-inning pitching change.
On April 17, 2014, the Brewers played the Pirates at PNC Park. The home team won, 11-2. Both teams combined to throw 268 pitches. Both teams combined to allow 27 baserunners, and 75 batters came to the plate. There was exactly one mid-inning pitching change.
The game from 1984 lasted two hours and 31 minutes.
The game from 2014 lasted three hours and six minutes.
The aim for this study was to find out what made the difference in the length of the two games.
You may believe the difference in time was due to more commercials, but no, that is not the case. This effort by SB nation is amazing, they watched both games with a stopwatch or some such and related the time and details for every inning even giving you quotes from the announcers. If you like baseball you'll like all this.
But in the end, the reason the current games are much longer is because of the length of time between pitches. Pitchers today are taking way more time to throw the ball after they receive it from the catcher.
The author of this piece said, "I tallied up all the pitches in both games that we’ll call inaction pitches — pitches that resulted in a ball, called strike, or swinging strike, but didn’t result in the end of an at-bat or the advancement of a runner. These are the pitches where the catcher caught the ball and threw it back to the pitcher, whose next step was to throw it back to the catcher."
The total time for the inaction pitches in 1984 — the elapsed time between a pitcher releasing one pitch and his release of the next pitch — was 32 minutes and 47 seconds.
The total time for inaction pitches in 2014 was 57 minutes and 41 seconds.
Pitchers are taking too much time to actually throw the ball! Keep your eyes on them when you next watch a game.