|Don't let you child grow up like this|
I was going to start this post with the same old shtick about the Hot Stove being in a lull, but its 2015. Its time to grow up & recognize that the pilot light is out, and AJ Preller may have taken his matches & gone home. Aside from the Scherzer/Shields watch and maybe one final blockbuster out there, the collective baseball world is just holding its breath waiting to get worked into a fury over the 2015 Hall of Fame Class (my thoughts on that later in the week).
In the meantime I thought I would introduce all of you to a cause near and dear to my heart: #3HourBaseball. And before you ask, its not a cause in 2015 if it doesn't have a hashtag. Its just a fact. Get over it.
So what is #3HourBaseball? Quite simply its the belief that every baseball game should aim to be played in 3 hours or less. It should be something that any one who is a fan of the game should be able to get behind.
I'm not going to get into the specifics of how it can be accomplished. MLB is obviously aware of pace of play issues as evidenced by the things that they say and experimentation with the Arizona Fall League. Although, I will just throw in that I'm a big time fan of a pitch clock.
Instead, I would rather talk about the importance of the baseball experience. The way I look at it there are 2 different ways to experience a baseball game. Both have their charms and limitations, and both are affected by #3HourBaseball.
There is no experience quite like attending a professional baseball game in person. There's a reason that baseball is played in Miller Park and football is played at Lambeau Field. The word park elicits thoughts of a local, outdoor, open area with multiple attractions and ways to fill your time. Sure there is a baseball game going on, but how much fun is it to walk a park and see the different food vendor or grass seating or the Monster Seats? Each teams' park is so unique to its city and its itself that Yankees playing the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium is an entirely different experience from watching those same 2 teams play at Fenway. Football, basketball, hockey, and soccer (its 2015, its here) simply can't offer this sort of experience.
For the in person experience, I think that the teams might be happy if the games last 5 hours. More time in the stadium equals more revenue. Its pretty simple math. But even with 82 home games a year how much of that in stadium revenue makes up a teams total take on the season?
This is the experience that for many of us is the most familiar. It comfortable. Its convenient. Its inexpensive. You don't need a designated driver. From home I can usually catch parts of 150+ games a year, even if its tough to get in 1 whole game start to finish. It definitely gives me enough fodder to fills the pages of this blog.
It is for the 'at home' experience that #3HourBaseball is the most important. While it can be hard enough to find 3 whole hours for a full baseball game, investing 3 hours & 45 minutes feels like a chore. Especially on a Wednesday night in July. And if it feels that way for someone who is a big enough baseball fan to write about it on the internet then how does it feel to other people?
Now this is where MLB will want to get behind the #3HourBaseball movement. I know they are already aware, but with all the big TV contracts getting handed out for "Un-DVRable" content MLB needs to make sure that their product is something that people want to continue to watch. Otherwise these contracts will dry up. I can promise TV networks hours of daily content of me walking my dogs, but if no one wants to see it...
I am also of the mind that a baseball game played in 3 hours or less usually a crisply played, entertaining one. Pitchers pitch, hitters swing, & fielders field. Mound conferences are kept to a minimum and a 2 pitch reliever makes up his mind in under 15 seconds. I am all kinds of happy when a 7:00 game is done by 10:00. It just makes me feel good about the last 3 hours I spent and I'd like to see more of it.
So there it is. The solutions are already out there. Baseball is already moving in the right direction, but they are a slow moving lot. You don't have a league over 100 years old if you don't take your time. They just have to be nudged a little. Its 2015. Its time to grow up.