Cleat Geeks

Time of Game MLB vs NFL

Major League Baseball is set to announce that they are going to add 3 new rules this season to speed up the average baseball game. New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred vowed to make pace of play a major issue when taking over for Bud Selig and he is ready to deliver on his promise. Here are the 3 new rules;

1) Managers must challenge plays from the dugout.

As a person who does not even like instant replay, I do not have a problem with this rule. Tons of time was wasted last year as managers slowly strolled from the dugout to the plate or the base of the infraction all the while watching over their shoulder waiting for the signal to challenge the play or not. Don’t get me started on the replay system, let’s just move on to the 2nd new rule.

2) Batters must keep one foot in the batters box unless an established exception occurs.

First let me say I absolutely love this rule! To me there is nothing more annoying than a batter re-adjusting his batting gloves (yes you Nomar) pounding dirt out of his cleats, adjusting his helmet (except for Johnny Gomes, his is cool) wiping out the batters box lines and writing his initials in the dirt with the head of the bat between pitches. Second, let me explain the meaning of “established exception.” An “established exception” would be if an umpire grants a time out or there’s a foul ball, wild pitch or passed ball.

3) Play to resume promptly once broadcast returns from commercial break.

This seems like it should be obvious and almost seems like a throw-in just to make 3 rules instead of 2. The problem with these rules is that you have addressed the length of an average at bat by the hitter, and the average time it is going to take to complete a challenge, but baseball neglected to address the pitchers. The 3rd rule should be 1 of these 3;

A) During an at bat, a pitcher can not leave the mound unless an established exception occurs.

B) A catcher can only leave the batters box (to visit the mound) once every at bat and a maximum of 3 times an inning.

C) Once a pitcher puts his foot on the rubber, his foot can not leave the rubber unless a pitch is thrown to the plate or another base occupying a runner.

baseballtimechartWhenever I get into a discussion about pace of play with a football fan, I hear the same 3 arguments. Baseball is boring. To which I say it is a complex game, you must be smart to understand it. There is no action, most people really mean there is no contact, there is a difference. The games take too long. To which I say, both games take relatively the same amount of time.

In recent years, the NFL has taken steps to speed up games, including starting a 40-second play clock from the end of the previous play, and, with the exception of the last two minutes of the first half and last five minutes of the second half, restarting the game clock on the referee’s signal after a player goes out of bounds, not waiting until the next play starts. So, much like baseball is now doing, football admits they were slow as well.

In 2013  an average professional football game lased 3 hours and 12 minutes(now please compare this fact to the chart above and you will find, each game takes relatively the same amount of time), but if you tally up the time when the ball is actually in play, the action amounts to a mere 11 minutes (I’m sorry, which sport does not have any action again?). The 11 minutes of action was famously calculated a few years ago by the Wall Street Journal. Its analysis found that an average NFL broadcast spent more time on replays (17 minutes) than live play. The plurality of time (75 minutes) was spent watching players, coaches, and referees essentially loiter on the field. Of course, watching football on TV is hardly just about the game; there are plenty of advertisements to show people, too. The average NFL game includes 20 commercial breaks containing more than 100 ads. The Journal’s analysis found that commercials took up about an hour, or one-third, of the game.

I am a sports fan, but baseball is my game of preference. Each year I usually get both the MLB and the NFL packages from my cable provider. I get the MLB package so I can watch games all over the United States on different coasts and follow my favorite players. I get the NFL package so I can watch any game I want on Monday afternoon in 30 minutes. For those of you who are huge NFL fans and are still mad at me, let me ask you 1 final question. How long do you think the average play is in the NFL? It is roughly 4 seconds. Or, the length of time it took you to read the last sentence of this article.


Parts of this article were originally written by Ken Rosenthal and Zachary M. Seward.

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