MLB’s new pace-of-game regulations appear to be working: through nearly two months, the average length of a baseball game is 2:53, or nine minutes shorter than it was last season.
That’s the word from an MLB executive, via ESPN. Games in May have taken an average of 2:52—down from 2:54 in April, and from 3:02 in 2014. If it holds, that’s more than 24 reclaimed hours of your life over your favorite team’s 162-game slate. That’s not nothing. (Motion to declare a national holiday the day after the World Series, so Americans can take full advantage of the extra day gifted us by baseball.)
How’s it happening? Incremental cuts into dead time, as mandated by the three pace-of-game rules implemented before the season. While seemingly minor, they’re adding up:
- The time between a third out of one half-inning and the first pitch of the next has gone down, from 3:30 to 3:18. That’s the first decrease in a decade, and comes not from cutting commercials, but from batters and pitchers being urge to be ready as soon as ad breaks are over.
- The time between pitches is down one second from last season, which is the function of new emphasis on hitters remaining in the batter’s box for the duration of an at-bat.
As a result of the progress, MLB says it does not intend to follow through on its threat of fines for repeat offenders. So it’s good news all around: we love baseball, we just wish there weren’t so much of it.