The New York Times has a feature in today’s edition about the increasing duration of Red Sox-Yankees baseball games. Apparently, the two teams play longer games than others because advertisers pay for more commercial breaks (hoping to take advantage of the bigger audiences) and because of some tactics from both sides.
But how long is too long? Here’s the paper:
On Thursday night at Fenway Park, it took baseball’s two most enduring rivals 4 hours 21 minutes to play a low-scoring nine-inning game that ended with the Yankees winning, 4-2. Two nights earlier, the Yankees won, 5-2, in a game that came in one minute short of four hours.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, those two games were the second- and third-longest nine-inning games of the season. The only one that went longer was the Yankees’ 22-9 rout of Oakland on Aug. 25, which lasted 4 hours 31 minutes. But a slugfest that takes forever to finish makes sense; a game that goes on and on with only six, or seven, runs doesn’t quite compute.
Got that? Four hours, and the country’s paper of record thinks this is an “absurd” length. This got me thinking: can cricket ever catch on in America beyond its immigrant communities? When you think of how soccer has fared — which is to say, somewhat OK after decades of investments — it doesn’t inspire much confidence in cricket’s prospects. But is time the main stumbling block for Americans, or cricket’s complexity? Even if you allow for the fact that the average T20 game lasts only about 3 hours, is that enough?
So here’s my challenge: if you had to make the game simpler, which rule would you get rid of? Which new ones would you introduce?