Getting every fan on board with various pace-of-play initiatives or length-of-game initiatives in MLB is pretty much impossible. Heck, you can’t even get fans to agree on whether the sport has a “pace” or “length” problem in the first place.
But it turns out that MLB is considering a change that I’m pretty sure just about everyone can get on board with, and it could be significant:
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) February 8, 2019
There are no particulars at this time, but Commissioner Manfred concedes that shortening inning breaks is under consideration to reduce the length of games. The balance MLB has to strike is in affording TV partners enough time to get in advertisements (which support the big ole TV contracts that provide an increasingly disproportionate chunk of revenue to teams), but not leave so much time between innings that games grow too long and fans have too many lengthy opportunities to check out.
MLB already chopped off 20 seconds from inning breaks in 2016, going from 2 minutes and 25 seconds for local games (2:45 for national) to 2 minutes and 5 seconds locally (2:25 national). If they could find a way to take another 30 seconds off, you’re talking about around nine minutes of entirely baseball-less time taken out of the game. I am in for that.
As for TV partners, perhaps the increasing use of in-game advertisements could make up the difference? I know that most of those partners would probably rather see in-game ads as *additive* rather than replacement, but you want your viewers to stay tuned in, too, right? What better way to accomplish that than by giving them much less time between innings to get sucked into something else and turn off the TV?