Will we ever see a 3-hour postseason baseball game again?
Have you been staying up a bit late these days? In my case, the answer is yes, watching postseason games that take between 3:30 and 4 hours. It's frankly insane, and I love baseball.
We remember today the 43rd anniversary of Game 6 of the 1975 Word Series. It ended in the bottom of the 12th when Carlton Fisk hit that famous home run.
The game had everything that makes baseball great. The Reds had a 6-3 lead in the 7th and couldn't run out the clock. The Red Sox tied the game in a dramatic Bernie Carbo pinch-hit H.R. in the bottom of the 8th. Boston loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th but couldn't score because of an amazing double-play from left-fielder George Foster to catcher Johnny Bench. The next three innings saw baseball drama until Fisk ended it.
Here is the amazing part: the game took 4:01. Again, that was a 12-inning game with lots of runners on base and even a few of Sparky Anderson's famous pitching changes.
In 1951, the Dodgers and Giants played a playoff game to decide the National League pennant. They scored nine runs, including the four-run bottom-of-the-9th home run called "the shot heard around the world."
Here is another amazing fact: the game took 2:27.
Over the last few years, every postseason seems to take four hours. I'm talking about nine-inning games. What in the world is going on?
Even Nate Silver is asking the question, and his group wrote this after the wonderful Cubs-Indians series:
Baseball usually reserves its longest games for October, with the average game length jumping precipitously in the final month of each of the past five seasons. But even keeping that in mind, this year has been extraordinary: The last 27 games have featured an average game length of three hours and 24 minutes, the highest average for any continuous block of 27 games in the past five years (and far above the overall 2016 season average of three hours, two minutes). The only block of games that even comes close to the one we're in now came in 2014 – and 2014 was before baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced new rules designed to speed up the games. That this year's games are surpassing the heights of 2014 even with those pace-of-play rules in place is extraordinary.
Let me suggest a couple of things to the commissioner:
1. Forget the idea of a clock.
2. Something has to be done about batters doing meditation between pitches. The umpire needs to tell the batter to get in the box or get an automatic strike call. On the other hand, pitchers can't take forever, either. It's up to the umpire to stop this.
3. Instant replay is great, but there must be a two-minute rule. You can see the replay and call it one way or the other.
I'm sure a lot of fans have other ideas. The commissioner needs to know that four-hour postseason games are driving a lot of us to catch the highlights (or even the score) on phone the next morning.
Let's face it: four-hour baseball games are not good for postgame shows or the advertisers who hope we are watching.