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Friday, October 24, 2014

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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