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Here’s an idea that could make postseason games shorter

A modest proposal that would make games take less time, and still give the TV folks the money they need.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

This year’s postseason games are running long. Very long. Probably longer than you’d like, because some of them (like Game 5 of the Cubs/Nationals NLDS) are running past the time you have to get to sleep.

According to Phil Rosenthal in the Tribune, they’re running significantly longer than this year’s regular-season games — and those ran longer than last year, an average of 3:05.

Postseason games through Sunday night have averaged three hours, 39 minutes this year. Even taking out the one extra-inning game, a 13-inning Yankees-Indians contest in the last round that ran more than five hours, the average remains 3:34.

Note: ALCS Game 3, not included in that count, ran 3:25, so that average dropped a bit Monday night.

There are a number of factors mentioned in that article as to why this is happening, from pitching changes to mound conferences to replay reviews.

Let’s get rid of two of those complaints right now. There have been 24 postseason games through Monday. There have been 20 reviews, total, in those 24 games. This doesn’t seem excessive.

Regarding mound visits, yes, they do seem far too numerous at times. But limiting those isn’t going to accomplish anything:

Bill James is right. Teams will adapt if mound conferences are limited, because there are many other ways to stall to get where you want to be in a particular situation.

It has been proposed — and I wouldn’t be against this — that relief pitchers should be required to face at least two hitters, unless they finish an inning. This would virtually eliminate the LOOGY — any lefthanded reliever couldn’t leave unless he faced two batters, one of whom might be righthanded.

There’s one thing not mentioned in Rosenthal’s article that must be addressed. That’s the longer inning break. During the regular season, most inning breaks (except for national TV games) are timed at 2:05. For the postseason so far, they’re timed at 2:55. (And just wait till the World Series. Last year, World Series inning breaks ran 3:15.)

That’s 50 extra seconds per half inning. There are at least 16 inning breaks of this type in every game. That’s 800 seconds, or 13⅓ minutes.

Well. Right there, you have accounted for almost half the difference in average game length between your average regular-season game and this year’s postseason. Add on an extra 50 seconds for every pitching change and you’ve probably accounted for almost all the difference.

Look, I get it. TV partners need to sell lots of commercial time to make up for the billions in rights fees that they pay.

Which brings me to this modest proposal. What if MLB and its TV partners did this: roll back the inning breaks to 2:05, and in the place of the lost break time sold on-screen sponsorships for every inning?

It could look something like this:

OK, I suck at Photoshop, but you get the idea. MLB and its TV partners could sell a sponsorship like this for every inning, giving the advertiser several minutes of screen time. I would have no objection to this as long as it was unobtrusive, like this example.

I can tell you I would definitely mind that less than seeing this a dozen times every postseason game:

Would you be in favor of something like this if it shortened commercial breaks and made for shorter games?


I’d be willing to see a sponsor’s name on the screen all the time, as long as it didn’t interfere with game action, if it meant shorter postseason games.

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    (592 votes)
  • 9%
    (72 votes)
  • 13%
    Doesn’t matter to me
    (101 votes)
765 votes total Vote Now