Last night's game between Boston and Detroit was an incredibly tense and thrilling playoff matchup, a pitching duel that included a no-hitter being broken up in the 9th inning and both teams having the opportunity to win the game.
Last night's game between Los Angeles and St. Louis was also an incredibly tense and thrilling playoff matchup, a pitching duel that featured the best pitcher in baseball against a very good rookie pitcher, with both teams having the opportunity to win the game.
Both games ended up being 1-0 games, and neither went into extra innings.
And yet, the Boston/Detroit game lasted 3:56. The Dodgers/Cardinals game lasted 2:40.
There's really no good explanation for the A.L. game to have lasted almost 50% longer than the N.L. game. Neither game went into extra innings. Both games featured just two mid-inning pitching changes.
The A.L. game featured more batters than the N.L. game -- there were 75 batters faced by BoSox and Tiger pitchers, compared to 60 batters faced by the Dodgers and Cardinals. There were 322 pitches thrown by the A.L. teams, compared to 247 pitches thrown by the N.L. teams. But that isn't enough to explain why the Boston/Detroit game lasted an hour and sixteen minutes longer -- especially when you consider that there was just one more half-inning commercial break for the A.L. game than the N.L. game (since the bottom of the 9th wasn't played in St. Louis, as the home team won).
Brandon McCarthy tweeted about this early in the game:
This is too slow. Too slow for even fans of the game much less casual viewers. Annoyance takes over the feeling of drama you should get.— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) October 13, 2013
Kevin Goldstein disagreed:
That was an incredible, tension packed game, but hey, keep complaining about how long it took. #ugh— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) October 13, 2013
Man, the amazing thing is taking too long! That’s like me complaining that my first date with Margaret went until 3am.— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) October 13, 2013
And while I generally fall on the side of those who think the time it takes to play the game is a non-issue, at a certain point, it gets to where even I think it is excessive. And the view KG offers above would seem to suggest that the Boston/Detroit game was more enjoyable -- significantly more enjoyable -- than the Cardinals/Dodgers game, because the fun lasted almost an hour and a half longer.
And I don't think anyone is really espousing that view.
There's no reason the Boston/Detroit game should have taken 4 hours to play. Games with just as many pitches and batters get played in three hours throughout the regular season by other teams. And I agree with BMac, the slow pace hurts the presentation of the game.
And its easy enough for MLB to address this issue. There's already a rule on the books that a pitcher is supposed to pitch within 12 seconds of receiving the ball if there is no one on base. If he doesn't, a ball is to be called.
The problem is that that rule is simply being ignored. If MLB tells the umpires to enforce that rule, and start calling balls when the pitcher holds the ball more than 12 seconds, we won't have 4 hour 1-0 games.