Baseball has a funny habit of showing little regard for the time of its players and fans.
When Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger traipsed into their respective dugouts on May 1, 1920, neither wanted to be there. Hours before the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Robins were scheduled to play at Braves Field, the weather was far from ideal. The murk veiled the Boston skyline; it was the kind of morning where you forget what the sun feels like. Both Cadore and Oeschger were scheduled to pitch. They would.
Umpire Bill McCormick called the game 26 innings later due to darkness. The game lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes and remains the longest in Major League Baseball history. Cadore and Oeschger had eerily similar stat lines: pitched every inning, struck out seven batters, and gave up a single run. But the game did not truly matter; it didn’t affect their record. It was a tie.
On a given day, you can expect to spend 3½ hours at a ballpark. With a commute, you can raise the total number of hours spent to five.
For comparison: the average length of an NBA game in 2011 was a shade under two hours and twenty minutes. Grantland’s Zach Lowe pointed out in September that the league should deliberate shortening the games to 40 minutes.
The Major League Baseball season consists of roughly 2,400 games played in a 180-day frame; 162 games per season played by each of the 30 teams in the league. With the addition of the postseason, teams can add up to 20 more games. Remember that 3½ hour figure? If you happen to own season tickets, you’ll spend around 34,020 minutes in a ballpark over the course of a season, and that’s if the games don’t go to extra innings.
For comparison: this year’s Super Bowl lasted four hours. The sporting event with the most commercials lasted 30 minutes longer than an average baseball game.
You won’t find me transfixed by a television for nine innings any night of the week. It’s a safe bet that I wouldn’t stay in a park for the full duration of a game, either. Call me a pessimist or an uncommitted fan or a millennial, but here’s 18 reasons why the MLB season and the games that comprise it are too damn long, with a few implications of the problems caused by the length interspersed.
Disclaimer: I attempted to carve 162 reasons but gave up almost immediately. Trimming the season to one-ninth its current length also wouldn’t be such a bad idea.