The traditions involved with going to a baseball game are unbeatable. Even if you’re not a fan of the game, enjoying a day out of the house and talking with friends and/or family about life while everyone around you partakes in a singular activity that they can root and cheer for is always a grand time. Taking in the scenic venue as you walk around the ballpark for an hour, returning to your seat with a hot dog or fries in hand, and still being able to enjoy the end of the game, the most enthralling part, is a great experience. Well, with the introduction of the pitch clock, those types of moments might not happen as often.
That’s a video of Yankees’ pitcher Wandy Peralta striking a hitter out in 20 seconds. At that pace, the entire half-inning would be over in a minute. In two minutes, the entire inning would be over. Now, obviously, there are other factors that play into the length of an inning — different hitters see varying amounts of pitches, the time between innings, and the time it takes for each new batter to step up to the plate. So, let’s examine all those scenarios and determine how long a half-inning would take.
The time between innings is usually just the length of a commercial break, so two or three minutes. Let’s assume the high point and say three minutes. Now, the average number of pitches a hitter sees in an at-bat is about five. If 20 seconds resulted in three pitches being thrown, then five pitches at the same pace would equal 33.33 seconds. Let’s say it takes each new hitter 15 additional seconds to walk up to the box and get set. There are also hits, walks, and errors we have to account for. In 2022, the league-wide WHIP was 1.266. However, with the removal of the defensive shift, let’s assume that number increases for 2023 to about where it was in 2019 — 1.334.
So, on average there would be 4.334 hitters per half-inning. This stat excludes the possibility of errors. I understand that is a flaw in the math I’m doing, but errors are pretty infrequent in MLB nowadays anyway, so I’m willing to look past it. Add in the time it takes for results to play out — i.e.: running to first on a hit, batters taking off their guards and walking to first after ball four, defenders catching fly balls or fielding ground balls, or trotting around the bases on a home run; I’m going to guess about seven seconds per play — and by my estimation, a half inning involving a pitcher pitching at the same pace as Peralta would last about 419.81 seconds, or just under seven minutes, from the last pitch of the previous half inning to the final pitch of the current one.
A need for speed?
Now, I’m not opposed to speedy half-innings. I want the game to be sped up, but just imagine this scenario: you go to a game with your friends excited to see your team in action live for the first time all year. At the end of the second inning, you decide to go get some concessions. That’s part of the experience of going to a ball game after all. Your friend asks you for something as well. It’s between innings, so there are going to be more people in line than usual. By the time you get to the front of the line, 20 minutes have already passed. You order, pay, and return to your seat. An additional five minutes go by. That’s 25 minutes. You’ve just missed nearly two full innings of baseball, assuming no pitching changes, mound visits, injuries, or crazy nonsense happens. TWO INNINGS!!!
What I’m saying is that when I go to MLB games this year, I’m not leaving my seat for even a second! I came to watch these athletes play, and by stepping away for a moment, I could miss more than 20 percent of the game? Nope! I’ll bring more snacks from home or something.
Am I complaining about a hypothetical problem that hasn’t even affected me? Yes. Should I? Probably not. I should just enjoy the sped-up game and get a Dodger Dog or two regardless of how much of the game I might miss, but I’m a pessimist, and complaining about imaginary nonsense is what I do best. I can’t help but worry about the smallest things regarding my enjoyment of one of my favorite sports. On second thought...maybe I should just buy tickets to games where Peralta isn’t pitching. That’s a much better solution than doing all of this math.