The most striking thing about the Baseball Games Are Too Long argument is the amount of time spent thinking about it.
It's an argument that comes up often, most of the time during a Red Sox-Yankees series, but it's only by coincidence that this article was published a day after the Mets and Marlins played 20 innings and the Blue Jays and Rangers played 18. The Boston Globe put in some serious research time here.
To break down exactly what is taking so long, the Globe picked a random series in May — three games against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park — and analyzed every second that went into each game: from the time it took to remove the tarp on Friday (10 minutes, 18 seconds) to Blue Jays pitcher Ramon Ortiz tying his shoes (6 seconds) to Gomes adjusting his helmet (52 seconds over six at-bats) to the “God Bless America” break on Sunday (4 minutes, 24 seconds).
There's more, too: The Globe talked with Joe Torre, ushers at Fenway, individual players, Vin Scully and spent some time watching decades-old baseball games. In 1963 a baseball game averaged two hours and 25 minutes. According to The Globe, games are approaching three hours in length this year. The article's posture suggests this is a discouraging trend.
Putting aside for a moment the cognitive dissonance of an article that only exists because someone painstakingly recorded and interpreted weird and made-up-seeming statistics regarding the length of time it takes to play a baseball game actually blaming part of that length on the rise of advanced statistics, this is a silly thing to write.
Baseball is a game, a diversion. As serious and all-important as it sometimes seems, at the end of the day its main function is entertainment. To say yesterday's game between the Mets and Marlins was bad because it was long is to say The Postman was a bad movie because it was long. The Postman was a bad movie because it was bad, it just so happened to also be long. It was 25 minutes longer than The Dark Knight but exponentially worse.
There is no "pace-of-game problem" in baseball. The relative badness of a baseball game can of course being compounded by its length, but again, baseball is a game. It is inherently fun to watch to those of us that like baseball, otherwise why are we spending so much time watching? A team plays 162 of these games in a full season, but there is no rule that requires you to watch all of them. If a game is too long or dull you can turn it off or leave the stadium, or go kill some time waiting in line for a beer. I promise, there will be another game tomorrow.
That's the beauty of baseball: for six months out of the year, it is always there. If you're in a hurry to watch a game, you're doing it wrong.
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