Revisiting baseball game durations

This morning, I learned from Paul Kafasis that major league baseball will be going to a pitch clock, something they tried out in the minor leagues last year. The idea, of course, is to speed up our interminable national pastime.

The story reminded me of a post I wrote about a decade ago in which I plotted the generally upward trend of baseball game durations over about 90 years. I grabbed a new set of data from Retrosheet and made this updated plot:

Baseball game durations

The last decade has not been kind to fans’ tushies. The black line is the median game length, and the blue zone is the interquartile range, which runs from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile. Games have gotten 10–12 minutes longer in the past 10 years.

Paul quotes a Washington Post article about the how the pitch clock

has reduced the average [minor league] game time from 3 hours 4 minutes in 2021 to 2:36 in 2022

My first thought was How can minor league games possibly last as long as major league games? Isn’t that a violation of the Geneva Convention? But then I remembered that minor league teams put on a lot of non-baseball show between innings. Myron Noodleman (RIP) ate up a lot of time.

I wish baseball luck. A half-hour drop would bring the game back down to the running time it had when I was a fan. I think that’s quite optimistic, but we’ll revisit this graph at the end of the season and see how it went.