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

Apr 7, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

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.

  1. sportsdrenched - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    When do the drug tests start for MLB Executives?*

    *= If an executive actually said that.

  2. timmmah10 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Shortening the game would be criminal.

  3. antaresrex - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Sure, we might have games that finish in 2:30 if they only last seven innings, but proportionally, in time per inning, that’s no improvement. Games used to be played in less than three hours all the time. If anyone is worried about the length of games, they need to be looking at the things that have been added over time – commercials are the most obvious – that are actually causing the increase. The amount of baseball in a nine-inning game hasn’t decreased, so look for what else is there.

    As to preventing pitching injuries, I would guess wildly that the main cause of the increase is that pitchers continue to throw harder, not necessarily more.

    • Sign Ahead - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Good point. Increase the amount of baseball per hour and we get a shorter, more intense product, just like the doctor ordered.

      This whole thing tells me that baseball isn’t all that important to this guy (and, I suspect, many other executives). He’s much more interested in the monetization than he is in the actual product.

  4. unlost1 - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    the reason it will never happen is you would put too many relief pitchers out of a job

  5. thisdamnbox - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    I wonder if the uptick in Tommy-John surgeries this spring has anything to do with the recent coldest winter in decades. Perhaps the normal spring training rituals for pitchers this season was too much too soon. Any Tommy John surgeries for players that didn’t spend their winters in the lower 48 states?

  6. stlouis1baseball - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    In the future, when I am faced with these ever pressing questions I am going to apply the ‘WWDOD’ method of answer extracting.

    What Would David Ortiz Do?

    • sophiethegreatdane - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      He would commission an investigation….and you would never hear from him again.

  7. leylandshospicenurse - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    The only thing that should change in baseball, is 8 batters instead of 9. Eliminating the pitcher and the DH.

    • twinfan24 - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      10 batters – pitcher AND extra hitter (DH). Won’t happen, but would make more sense than 8 hitters.

    • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      I like that idea

  8. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    A better way to shorten games is to get rid of one out of every 5 commercials.

    What a terrible baseball executive. Nameless coward should move to the NFL.

  9. raysfan1 - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    If innings limits were the issue regarding injuries, then the solution is much simpler than drastically altering the structure of the game. Expand the rosters. More pitchers, less wear and tear overall. Of course, an exec wouldn’t mention that because that means more payroll/higher cost to the team.

    Similarly, to those who suggested shortening the season, that won’t ever be seriously considered because that would mean less income to the team.

    Note: I do not actually advocate increased rosters to allow carrying more pitchers. I’d hate to see someone come up with the bright idea of having a 6th inning specialist. In this case, the game and season length are good as is.

  10. poprox13 - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    The 5th inning stretch just doesnt have the same ring to it……

    • raysfan1 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      Yeah, nor does “seventh inning stretch and trip home”

  11. metrocritical - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    If a team exec honestly and passionately asserted this money losing, tradition scuffling proposal in a public forum, it would be his career that would be shortened.

  12. dillongeeescapeplan - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    THIS IS BLASPHEMY.

  13. sc101071 - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    I do think they could shorten the season by about 10 games.

  14. ws0001 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Here is my problem with game lengths, “getaway” games move at a much brisker pace than other games. Speeding up the game can be done. We know the games move faster when the players, umpires, and everyone involves want them to. It too often drags because there is no incentive or disincentive to keeping things moving.

  15. jrbdmb - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Is there anyone other than David Samson (Marlins president) who could have said anything so moronic?

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10666381/david-samson-wants-miami-marlins-play-faster-games

  16. slaugin - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    I like baseball the way it is and considering the giant TV contract they got it looks like their doing ok as is

  17. Bob Loblaw - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    If they changed it to 7 innings, then 3s and 7s would have to be wild in baseball poker…that would suck.

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