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SB Nation Reacts: The nature of baseball

How long should a baseball game be? What about a baseball season?

Los Angeles Dodgers v. Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Darryl Webb/MLB Photos via Getty Images

This week’s SB Nation React results asked some pretty interesting questions, and I think the results merited some extended discussion as well. We begin with fans telling us how many games per year they watch [as for all these, the responses are not just from D-backs fans, but I imagine our local responses would be along similar lines]

Quite surprised to see how many people are watching more or less every game. But I guess it may also depend on your definition of “watch”. Since we cut the cable at SnakePit Towers, we are definitely observing fewer games directly. In fact, outside of the games which I recap, I’m not certain I’ve truly watched any games so far this season. But it’s a lot easier to follow the game in other ways than it used to be. For almost every game, I’ve been following on Gameday and/or the SnakePit GDT. True, this is typically while doing something else, but such is modern life. We are a multi-tasking species now. We’ll see what happens with the Bally Sports situation too. If is a viable route to watch D-backs game, I probably will.

Most people seem fine with the current length of a baseball season, more or less. This is something which we looked at earlier in the season, based on the fact that the 12 teams who occupied playoff spots after just 110 games last year were exactly the same 12 teams who ended up making the post-season field at the end of the 162-game schedule. Even fewer games than that gives you a pretty good indication. For example, here are the standings after the D-backs’ 44th game in 2022. Barely a quarter of the way in, and of the top six teams in each league, four in both the NL and AL would end up reaching the playoffs four and a half months later.

Finally, the question of individual game length. Average game time this season is down an impressive 26 minutes, from 3:03 last season to 2:37 this year. Only one D-backs game of the 44 so far has taken longer than 3:20 (no prizes for guessing which!). Last year, it was almost one in four, with 38 crossing the 200-minute mark. I really like this improved pace. It no longer feels like watching a game is the only thing I’ll be able to do of an evening. That was generally the case where a 6:40 pm first pitch would often not end until close to ten o’clock. Now, there’s a good chance it might be done by nine, with more than one-third of MLB games (34.2%) taking two and a half hours or less. Still time to watch Killer Sofa...

I would imagine this is likely a particular boon for families with young children at the ballpark. Attention span is a thing with the pre-teen audience, and once little Billy and Mandy begin to get stroppy, it’s time to make an exit. If that meant leaving Chase Field four innings in, it’s a significant incentive to not bother at all. But if that same duration now means Dad + Mum get to enjoy six or seven innings of baseball, it might still be worth the effort. It’s probably a small effect, yet certainly worth considering. Anyway, what are your takes on the above questions? As ever, the comments section is your friend...

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