The recently completed three-game series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees demonstrated quite clearly how big a problem Major League Baseball (MLB) has when it comes to the length of its games.
As usual, the games dragged on, with one (the nine-inning) game lasting three hours, 59 minutes and another clocking in at 4:21.
Perhaps using Red Sox-Yankee games as the measuring stick is not fair, since both teams are notoriously deliberate at the plate. Still, if those match-ups earn the highest television ratings and the most attention, then their head-to-head meetings are a good barometer.
While MLB has encouraged teams to speed up pitching changes and carefully monitors time between innings, it has done virtually nothing when it comes to enforcing rules governing time between pitches.
The rule book clearly states that, when no bases are occupied, pitchers should take no longer than 12 seconds to deliver a pitch.
Failure do so could result in the umpire calling an automatic ball. Routinely, however, pitchers take 25, 30, even 50 seconds to make a pitch. Even some players are tired of getting tired. "It's brutal," Mark Teixeira, the New York first baseman, told the New York Times. "I can't stand playing a nine-inning game in four hours. It's not baseball. I don't even know how to describe it ... Four-hour games can't be fun for a fan, either."
They are not. And the worst part is, baseball has the ability - some would say obligation - to do something about it, but will not.