Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Length Of The Game

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 details:
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%)

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