The growing length of baseball games has become a frequent complaint in recent years, and the Commissioner's Office has shortening their duration a priority. I also would like to see shorter games.
In writing posts on mid-1970s games I saw in Fenway, I noticed how quick they were. Mark Fidrych's duel with Luis Tiant took 1:57, while the game featuring Jim Rice's monster home run was over in 2:07. Most recently I was researching a 3-game Red Sox-Yankees series I watched from the bleachers in June 1977 (subject of an upcoming post). The game times were 2:27, 2:38 and 2:23; shocking for those of us accustomed to the four hour marathons these team routinely played in the 21st century. The average game length in MLB increased from 2:29 in 1974 to 3:09 in 2014.
All of which prompted a deeper look at the length of Red Sox games in 1977 and 2016. Bottom line: counting only nine inning games, in 1977 you were almost 17 times more likely to attend a game lasting less than 2:30 than in 2016. In 2016 you were almost 8 times more likely to attend a game lasting more than 3:15.
The 1977 Red Sox played 154 nine inning games.
The 2016 Red Sox played 151 nine inning games.
Games Less Than 2:30
1977: 70 (45.5%)
2016: 4 ( 2.6%)
Games More Than 3:15
1977: 7 (4.5%)
2016: 53 (35.1%)
Games Between 2:30 & 3:15
1977: 77 (50.0%)
2016: 94 (62.3%)