MLB executive thinks games should be shortened to seven innings

Matt Harvey MetsCritics of Major League Baseball have long complained that the games are too long. Between batters stepping out of the box when they’re uncomfortable and pitchers strolling around the mound between pitches, an MLB game almost always lasts more than three hours. Now that instant replay is being utilized, they will take even longer. One MLB executive thinks he knows how to fix that.

ESPN’s Buster Olney spoke with a high-ranking official on Monday who suggested MLB games should be shortened from nine innings to seven.

“I think they ought to change the games to seven innings,” he reportedly said emphatically.

The conversation started with a discussion about injuries. Pitchers seem to be suffering more and more injuries as the years pass, and apparently this particular MLB exec thinks they are throwing too much. Based on his theory, starters would probably go about five innings and then the bullpen would follow the same formula.

As Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk noted, NFL games usually take around three hours or more. There are commercial breaks after almost every punt, turnover, kickoff, timeout and score, and the NFL product remains stronger than ever. If someone isn’t going to watch a baseball game, they’re still not going to watch a seven-inning baseball game.

As for the injuries, one of the reasons we see more in the modern game than we did 50 years ago is because everything is diagnosed as an injury these days. A sore muscle sounds worse when you call it a strained oblique. I’m not saying an injury that requires Tommy John surgery isn’t significant, but I don’t think the number of innings pitched matters that much.

Shorter MLB games is not likely to be something we’ll see in our lifetime.

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  • Doug Steele

    Easy fix but MLB won’t rock the cradle. Ortiz (an all other batters) shouldn’t be able to do their “adjusting the gloves” for 25-35 seconds every time they swing the bat. Just stop. and get ready for the next pitch

    Once you’re in the box you can leave. if you do…You’re out

  • Gekabee

    What a stupid, laughable idea. The game is doing better than ever financially and on the field, since drug testing has gotten serious, and now someone wants to radically change it? Doing this would make all records and statistics meaningless.

    I’d be willing to bet this “high ranking official”, who I note didn’t even have enough guts to give his name, is someone on the financial or business side rather than on the baseball side of things. He probably knows little about the game and certainly doesn’t appreciate it.

  • Lance Edwards

    Dumb, just plain dumb…..no other words for it.

  • Murphmeister

    This is not an inherent problem with baseball. It’s a problem caused by MLB. I literally could not watch Nomar Garciaparra go through his between pitch paroxysms. I saw a video of Nomar in the Cape League and he didn’t do that stuff between pitches.
    When I was a kid, baseball games were routinely two and half hours or less. Look at the times of games published in Baseball Digest for games 45 years or older. The seventh game of the 1960 World Series took 2 hours and 20 minutes.
    But, there is money to be made in delays: more television ads, more Jumbotron ads, more concession sales etc. MLB can fix the problem but it just doesn’t want to. Notice how the MLB executive is unnamed. He wants to keep his job.

  • Karl Meyer

    Stupidest idea ever! Let’s just throw away 137 years of records & statistics so a bunch of rich guys (generically speaking of course) can make more money. MLB is my favorite sport by a long shot, but STG, I’ll move on to NBA or NHL if this ever gets voted in.

  • maxcat07

    If the “MLB Executive” wants the game to be 7 innings, he can always shut the TV off after 7, or switch channels. As for me, I don’t see baseball as being any more boring than football where there’s a play, then a pause, then a play, then a pause, then a side change, then rinse and repeat. The two minute warning at the end generally runs about 15 minutes. As far as I can tell, most baseball games are about the same length as football games, unless there are high scores, and then who would want to stop watching them?

  • Tom Ainslie

    What is MLB turning into Little League? Are the players going to require nap time now? Grow up earn your big money and stop whining like a little kid. Oh wait kids love playing baseball for hours.

  • nacoran

    If pitchers are pitching too many innings, wouldn’t a simpler solution be to expand the roster a couple spots so teams could carry a few more arms? It might lengthen games a bit though, with more pitching changes.

    That said, if you really wanted to shorten the game a bit, aside from the obvious choices like calling a strike on a batter who leaves the batters’ box (except maybe on an inside pitch) or giving the pitcher less time between pitches, or timing managers visiting the moung, maybe you could change the way teams take the field in the 8th and 9th inning. If your team is leading you stay on the field. You still erase the baserunners after the 3rd out, but the trailing team gets to bat again. Basically, your team doesn’t need to bat in the 8th and 9th if you are leading, just like no one plays the bottom of the 9th if the home team is ahead now. If the other team takes the lead, at the end of the half inning, you go to bat. Try it in Little League first. If people like it and aren’t too confused by it, expand it.

  • Don Dolan

    Very easy to get under 3 hrs. Umpires need to enforce current rules. Batter stays in box, exceptions being bugs, very windy sand gets in eyes, etc. Pitcher next pitch is in 20 – 30 seconds. Oh, one more. If Ortiz can’t get around the bases as fast as the avg hr hitter, throw him out.

  • Patrick Doitson

    Saving starting pitchers arms would be good, and they can have a longer careers too. Expand the roster to 40 players all year round, not just September. This too would also help out to have some extra inning eating pitchers on the staff. Though would like to see a more rounded division set up. Perhaps a 3 division league of 10 teams each based on region like NHL is doing. Based on East, West and Central time zones. 12 divison games of each opponent and play half the teams in the other divisions 5 times and alternate the schedule to play the other half the next year. A 158 game schedule. That would seem like a good competitive balance. From there expand the playoffs to 12 teams with division winners getting home field advantage thoughout playoffs and the best record of non division winner getting a first round bye, while others seed 5 to 12 play in a best of 3. And go with best of 5 for the next round. And the last 2 rounds a best of 7. Why not a Red Sox -Yankees World Series if they do not meet before the final 2 rounds. AL vs NL is outdated.