Team exec thinks shortening games to seven innings is what baseball needs

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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.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.