Buster Olney spoke with a team executive who cited long games and a rash of injuries as two problems that can be solved with one radical move: shortening games to seven innings:
“I think they ought to change the games to seven innings,” he said.
Seven innings? You mean, in each game? Seven innings instead of nine?
“Seven innings,” he said again, and he went on to explain that if baseball adopted this, it could represent tonic for all the problems he sees.
Seven innings instead of nine would mean the games would finish closer to two-and-a-half hours than three hours or longer. That would be a better fit for the common attention span in 2014.
A younger audience might be more attracted to a shorter, more intense product, he said.
1. Why do people who think baseball games are too long and need to be shortened in order to hold viewers’ attention spans never mention that most NFL broadcasts last around three and a half hours?
2. Why would cutting games to seven innings necessarily limit injuries? Most recent studies have failed to find a link between innings’ pitched and arm injuries. Indeed, almost all of the Tommy John surgeries this year popped up in spring training after side sessions or one or two innings pitched. We really know next to nothing about preventing pitching injuries so cutting the length of games may have zero payoff in this regard.
3. The biggest argument against seven-inning games? Beer sales cut off in the seventh inning. Cut them off in the fifth now? That, my friends, is a hill I WILL die upon.
4. Is it crazy to think that the executive advocating for seven inning games really has a crappy back end of the bullpen, and he’s merely projecting his problems on the rest of baseball? That’s my theory anyway.
Nine innings. That’s the game. Ain’t gonna change. Shouldn’t change even if anyone took this seriously.