(CBS) — Major league baseball will take a hard look during the off-season at time of game and eliminating needless delays by both the pitcher and hitter.
Average time of a game has risen to an all-time high average of 3 hours and 2 minutes in 2014. This average time of game is up almost 20 minutes per game since 2000.
Many people blame the length of game on the continuous adjustment of equipment (gloves, hats, practice swings) between each pitch. Others look at pitchers walking around the mound and grabbing for the rosin bag every other pitch. These are certainly correctable problems that could shave 5-7 minutes off of the average.
“It is just their routine,” said Cub manager Rick Renteria, referring to hitters habitually stepping out of the box. “That is their whole thought process of what they do as a part of their at-bat. Not everybody steps out after every pitch. Remember, with runners on base, the batter has to step out to look at the coaches’ signals. In that process, some guys readjust their batting gloves and some guys don’t.”
The real culprit may be the extra television ads that are being sold around the local TV games. Just add 1 minute of ad inventory per inning, and you can find those 20 minutes you have lost in time of game.
What is the solution to this problem? Blaming the players appears to be the answer. Are teams going to tell TV partners not to sell more inventory? You can bet all of your per-cap spending money, the answer is “no way.”
Local television revenue is driving the sport. Take a look at the Dodgers’ 20-year deal that pays them between $4 billion and $5 billion. That’s right – billion. You must try to comprehend that the Dodgers sold three years ago for $2 billion, or more than double of any previous sale of a major league team. That sale was predicated on the TV revenues that were awaiting the new owners.
Here in Chicago, the Cubs expect to average $1 million per broadcast by the time they either start their own TV station or sell the rights in 2020. A 20-year deal will net the Cubs $3 billion to $4 billion using their numbers.
Let’s not be hypocrites about this time of game issue. Yes, replay has added some time on games. That can be refined with some common-sense changes. You can let managers appeal from the bench three times a game with no penalty.
The major problem baseball has is attention disorders of the average American sports fans. They want their sports fast and they want to know how long the event will take. It is common to watch Chicago fans on both sides of town leave games that are approaching three hours after the seventh-inning stretch.
They are leaving with their team in front, their team trailing and in tie games. In other words, baseball needs to deliver a faster product? How do they get there? Your guess will be better than mine.