September 22, 2014

What’s with the whining about the length of games?

April 12, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Okay, I realize I’ll be in the minority with what I am about to write but I just have to say it…

Why the hell does anyone care about the “average length” of Major League games?

I know some games drag on for what can seem like days and all that but give me a break. It’s a game! It’s entertainment! Who complains when they get more entertainment than they bargained for?

Would you complain if you saw your favorite band live in concert and they played a 3-hour set instead of a 2-hour set? Would anyone be upset if they paid for a 30-minute massage and got 45 minutes at no extra cost?

Of course you wouldn’t and that’s why fans don’t complain about the average length of games. They’re not paying by the hour.

I just don’t believe fans care how long the games are. People who work at Major League games do, however, and they’re the ones who do most of the complaining, at least from what I can tell.

Keep in mind that I’m one of those people who “work” at Major League games. Part of my job requires me to cover a few games on each St. Louis Cardinals home stand. Now, I’m not covering 162 games per year and if I were I would probably love to have games wrap up a little more quickly than they do but it’s hardly an issue that Bud Selig and Major League Baseball needs to worry all that much about.

Don’t mess with the game between the lines just because certain groups of people want to get home a little earlier. The game was played at a deliberate pace 50 years ago and the ONLY difference between then and now is television.

Every single game is televised and the extra time between innings for commercial breaks accounts for the difference in the average length of games. To me that is a worthy sacrifice. I’ll trade a longer average game for being able to see any game I want on a given day. It’s a good deal for fans.

The writers, broadcasters and others (like umpires) who work a full season at the ballpark understandably want to go home a little earlier, on average, than they normally do. Who doesn’t want to get home from work a little earlier? Lord knows I enjoy when that opportunity presents itself.

Major League games lasted an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes back in 1960 and last year that average was 2 hours and 52 minutes. 14 minutes per game multiplied by 162 games comes to just under 38 hours of potential time saved for those who make a living being at the ballpark everyday and that’s a pretty significant savings.

But it has nothing to do with the paying customer and, therefore, should not be a priority for Major League Baseball. I have never had a fan call my show and say “You know, that game would have been great if it had just wrapped up 14 minutes earlier.”

In addition to being a “media guy” I also happen to be a fan and when I go to a game for fun I’m not sitting there looking at my watch. It’s recreation time and I’m having fun when I’m at the ballpark (or watching on TV at home) so why would I care if the average game is 14 minutes longer than it was 50 years ago?

I’m sorry if this offends Joe West, who complained recently about the pace the Red Sox and Yankees play at, but nobody cares what you think big fella. Call the balls and strikes, enforce the rules and leave everything else to the players and fans.

If people really want to do something simple to speed up the games they could just shorten up the commercial breaks on the telecasts.

That’ll never happen because that would mean giving up revenue the sport needs. It’s also not necessary.

Let the players play the game the way it has always been played, at a deliberate pace, and if the fans have a problem they’ll let you know by not showing up at the ballpark.

Thanks for reading…

KW

Kevin Wheeler is the host of Sports Open Line on News Radio 1120, KMOX in St. Louis. Sports Open Line airs weekdays from 6-8 PM CT and can be heard outside of St. Louis at www.kmox.com.

In addition to his work on the air at KMOX, Kevin is also a hitting & catching instructor for All-Star Performance (www.all-starperformance.net) in St. Louis and performs the same duties for the St. Louis Gamers travel program (www.stlgamers.net), working with former Major Leaguers Scott Cooper and Matt Whiteside.

He began his radio career in December of 1995 working for the One-On-One Sports Radio Network (which became Sporting News Radio in 2001). The Kevin Wheeler Show was heard overnights on Sporting News Radio from 2002-2005. During that same period he was the Sporting News’ Minor League expert and a contributor to the Sporting News Fantasy Source publications.

Before embarking on a career as a member of the media and as a coach, Kevin served as a backup catcher at the University of Miami, FL where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism in 1994.

Comments

2 Responses to “What’s with the whining about the length of games?”
  1. I completely agree. If the game is good, nobody cares about how long it goes. I’d rather have a 3 hour well-played game than some 3 hour slog through multiple pitching changes, etc. But I’ve never understood the obsession with time of games. Does the NFL or NBA worry about it with their clock stoppages?

  2. Ben Hughes says:

    Yeah, I don’t understand why this is a issue either. If I buy a ticket to a game, it doesn’t bother me to be there for 3-5 hours. I love being at the ballpark.

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