Fans who follow baseball closely, and a good many people who don’t, know that the pitch clock has cut almost half an hour off the average MLB game time this year. What may be even more remarkable, though not nearly as widely remarked on, is how alike in length this year’s games have been. April 25’s 15 contests included close games and lopsided games, shutouts and slugfests. But there weren’t any extra-long games that were balanced out by a bunch of extra-short ones. Only 36 minutes separated the longest game (2:52) from the shortest game (2:16). Every East Coast game was over before 10 p.m. ET, and every West Coast game ended shortly before 12:30 a.m. ET. On that night, you could almost set your watch to baseball—traditionally, and either famously or infamously, the sport with the most malleable, variable approach to time.
April 25 was one day, but that predictable pattern is pretty representative of this season as a whole. Most of the pitch-clock headlines have, understandably, been about the total time saved relative to last year: At this rate, over a 2,430-game regular season, MLB will have trimmed more than 68,000 minutes, 1,130 hours, or 47 days of hitters lollygagging in and out of the batter’s box and pitchers either staring into space or peering in at signs for the pitches they’d eventually get around to throwing. But the games aren’t just shorter than the ones MLB fans had grudgingly become accustomed to. They’re also significantly more uniform in duration. And even more than the reduction in average game length, it’s the reduced variation in game length that has truly transformed the sport into something unseen in living memory.
Baseball’s trademark refusal to stick to a timetable has long been a source of delight or a source of frustration, depending on the observer. In 1971, Roger Angell wrote, “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.” Eight years later, Herb Caen expressed the same concept a little less lyrically and romantically: “The clock doesn’t matter in baseball. Time stands still or moves backward. Theoretically, one game could go on forever. Some seem to.” … Read More
(via The Ringer)