There is a beautiful rhythm during MLB games that are unlike NFL, NBA, or NHL games. Unlike NFL or NBA games that are 60 minutes of playable action, there is no clock in baseball. So how long are Major League Baseball games in general? Here is the breakdown.
How Many Innings is a Regular Game?
The average MLB game consists of nine innings of baseball. However, 2021 now has two seven-inning doubleheaders, which is considered a complete game. Also, baseball games can go into extra innings to decide a winner, so nine innings are average for regular season and postseason games.
While nine innings are roughly the standard for baseball games, there is no time limit to complete the nine innings. Since there is no time clock in baseball, you will find the game’s length varies between games during a given day.
How Long is a Baseball Game?
According to Baseball-Reference, as of 6-6-2021, the average time it takes to complete a baseball game is three hours and eight minutes. Back in 2001, according to Baseball-Reference, the average length of a baseball game was two hours and fifty-eight minutes. Keeping with Baseball-Reference, the average baseball game in 1991 was two hours and fifty-four minutes.
As you can see above, baseball games are slowly taking longer to complete. There are numerous reasons why the game keeps taking longer to complete. Below are some of the primary reasons for the game taking longer.
What Adds to the Time of Baseball Games?
Numerous factors contribute to long baseball games. Here are some of the ways that baseball games take longer to complete.
- Games that go into extra innings add additional time to complete a game.
- Pitching changes that require the reliever to jog from the bullpen to the pitching mound
- Mound visits that delay the action to bring in a new pitcher or talk about strategy. The same happens when a catcher needs to change the signs, adding additional time between pitches.
- Hitters stepping out of the batter’s box to adjust their gloves between pitches during their at-bat
- If any fights take place between teams, you can expect a delay in action.
- Instant replay reviews
- Arguing with the umpire during your plate appearance
- Postseason playoff games that add additional TV commercial time in between innings
- How long it takes to complete an inning. For example, you may have the home team or away team score many runs in an inning, which adds more time to the game.
- Bringing in a new baserunner to replace a runner on the base paths
- Certain matchups (New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the San Francisco Giants) tend to be longer games since those matches are rivalry games. MLB teams playing their rival incorporate more moves and countermoves since winning those games can help win your division.
What are the Ways Baseball is Trying to Speed up the Game?
There are a few ways that Major League Baseball is trying to speed up the pace of play during baseball games. One way to speed up the action is with a 20-second pitch clock in every ballpark. The 20-second pitch clock helps speed up the pitch that the pitcher needs to throw since they can see that in every ballpark.
Another way to speed up the game is to walk a hitter via the intentional walk automatically. Starting in 2017, baseball pitchers can signal that they want to walk a hitter intentionally. The signal to intentionally walk a hitter saves throwing four pitchers, which speeds up the game.
In 2021, MLB made two seven-inning games when a doubleheader was necessary. The seven-inning games help speed up the game and save the number of innings teams need to pitch. Reducing the number of innings and pitchers helps speed up the pace of play.
Finally, extra-inning games starting in 2021 now implement an automatic runner on second base to start the inning. This new rule aims to speed up the game’s conclusion by giving each team a runner in scoring position. While this rule may be controversial, it is at least something baseball is trying to do to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a game.
What is the Longest Game Ever in Baseball?
The longest professional baseball game took place in 1984 with the Milwaukee Brewers against the Chicago White Sox. The game took eight hours and six minutes to complete. The game took twenty-five innings to complete, which had the White Sox win on a home run.
What is the Longest Minor League Baseball Game Ever?
The longest Minor League Baseball game belongs to the Rochester Red Wings vs. the Pawtucket Paw Sox in 1981. The match between the two teams took eight hours and twenty-five minutes to complete and was thirty-three innings. If you want to learn more about the longest game, you can visit the Paw Sox resource.
What Was the Longest Played World Series Game?
The longest World Series game came in 2018 between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The baseball game took seven hours and twenty minutes and needed eighteen innings to complete. Previously, the World Series record of completing a game was five hours and forty-one minutes against the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros in 2005.
A typical nine-inning game takes three hours or so to complete. Since there is no clock like NHL games, there is a rhythm in baseball about moves and counter moves. While Major League Baseball keeps trying to reduce the game time, Baseball-Reference illustrates that it takes longer to complete games than it did twenty or thirty years ago.