One of the most popular reasons that I've heard among similarly aged peers — I'm 23 years old — and other, younger kids, like my former campers in my years as a camp counselor, was that a baseball game just takes too long to sit through. Add that to the fact that the season is 162 games long, and that there's the possibility of extra innings each and every contest, and that a lot of the games can feel meaningless, and there's just an overarching sense of "too long" that turns away a whole generation of baseball fans. And not everyone is going to like baseball — there were always the kids who would spend their time picking flowers in the outfield of rec baseball games — but the sense is that fewer people like the game than in years past.
Whether or not this is accurate and is reflected in viewership ratings is one questions. But there's no question that the league is working to tinker the game a little bit and explore ways to make it more appealing for a wider audience. One move was to bring in Ken Griffey Jr., perhaps the most beloved player in the game's long history, in a Senior Advisor to the Commissioner role. Here, he'll focus on baseball operations and youth baseball development, among other initiatives.
But as progressive as his upcoming work might be for the game in many ways, the length of a nine-inning showdown is something that doesn't bother him. In fact, it's what he sees as a defining factor of our national pastime.
"I think it's perfect the way it is, that's just me, but the fans right now want it quick so I think things are going to speed up a little bit," Griffey Jr. said on MLB Network. "But for me, having a no time limit game is what it's all about. It's 27 outs and that's the beauty of baseball. It's not who got the ball, the time limit, you know, it's 27 outs and no matter what happens in those 27 outs, it's gotta be played."
He has a point. What other major team sport runs without a time limit? Not football, not basketball, not hockey, not soccer... and I'm not going to discuss cricket, but you get the idea. The point of baseball is not to rush. It's to wear down your opponent on the mound, deflate their hopes as you build a lead, but also realize that until out number 27 is recorded, there is always a chance at a comeback. If you're down 10 points in basketball with five seconds left, you can call it a game. If you're down 10 runs in baseball with one out left, nothing is set in stone.
And besides, it didn't seem like baseball was pondering some sort of game clock that ended a contest early if the timer expired. But the potential for a pitch clock, along with already established rules such as anticipated intentional walks, decreased bullpen sizes and three-batter minimums, will continue to be put into play to quicken the game's pace. But if it were up to The Kid, things would stay just as they are.