Craig Remsburg column: 7 innings for MLB? No way
Regulation pro baseball games have been nine innings in length since 1857 when the Knickerbocker Club in New York reportedly established rules for the game.
The nine innings have served the sport well and no one questioned the game’s regulation length.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported 10 days or so ago a baseball executive he won’t name told him games should be reduced to seven innings in length.
Games are running three hours or more and the exective said baseball’s young fans are losing interest by that time.
Their attention span, the executive said, is short, which translates into fewer fans for baseball down the road.
Speeding up the game is an admirable goal. Baseball has too many “dead spots” that could be reduced in length or eliminated altogether.
Umpires could enforce the rule of 12 seconds per pitch. Batters now step out of the box to adjust a batting glove, show an umpire a previous strike call was wrong or just to make a hurler get out of rhythm.
Sometimes, a batter decided just before striding to the plate he has to put more pine tar on his bat instead of doing it while in the on deck circle.
Batters could also go seven or more pitches into a count by “spoiling” pitch-after-pitch to stay alive until he finds a pitch he can smack.
Pitchers are offenders, as well. They scrape dirt around the mound, tug on their hats, reach for the rosin bag or shake off a catcher’s sign three or four times until the “right” pitch is called.
And radio/television commercials between innings or when a pitching change is made seem to be longer in length than they used to be.
All of these situations take time, but all could be adjusted, too, to speed up the game.
But to shorten games to seven innings? No way.
If that idea was to be implemented, all statistics in the past and-or from here on out would have to be used with an asterisk to take care of the seven or nine innings played.
A lot of relief pitchers would be out of jobs, too. Starting pitchers who go at least five or six innings would make it unnecessary for clubs to carry as many relievers as they do today.
A seven inning rule would also means the sport’s fans might also see top players such as Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard or Bryce Harper – for example – bat one fewer time per game.
Few fans would like that, especially those who travel many miles to attend a game.
There’s also the “fifth inning strtetch” if games are shortened. It just doesn’t sound right.
Baseball executives/owners should keep the nine-inning format. Changing it to seven innings would be ludicrous.
For the baseball exec who thinks otherwise, may he be forced to watch every Houston Astros game this season.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.