Baseball games are getting longer and longer. Baseball games have increased in length an average of .7 minutes per year since 2002. And lately, the problem has gotten worse. The average baseball game took 2 hours and 56 minutes in 2011. In 2012, it was 3 hours flat. In 2013, it was 3 hours and 4 minutes. With replay, baseball games are even longer this year.
There are plenty of ideas to speed up baseball games, some common sense, some crazy. Here’s a simple idea we can all get behind.
On Sunday night, the Boston Red Sox made 3 pitching changes in 2 innings in the middle of the inning. Each of these pitching changes stopped the game in its tracks while ESPN went to commercial. One Red Sox pitcher threw one pitch. Commercial break. One pitch. Another commercial break.
Here’s a simple idea: when a manager makes a pitching change in the middle of an inning, the reliever gets zero warm up pitches. Why does a reliever need warm up pitches? He’s coming in from the bullpen where he should already be warmed up.
It’s possible some relievers want a warm up pitch or two to adjust to the mound or the catcher. If that’s the case, that reliever should start the inning, where he gets his full allotment of warm up pitches. If a manager makes a mid-inning pitching change, sorry, his pitcher needs to come into the game ready to go.
This would easily shave 5 minutes off the average baseball game and get the trend of longer and longer baseball games headed back in the right direction.