Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Longest Nine

This afternoon, the Mets completed their 11-game homestand with a 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.  The low-scoring game took a tidy two hours and 37 minutes to complete.  Today's game was an aberration of sorts, as it was one of only 21 games this year to be played to its completion in under two hours and 40 minutes.

If it seems like the Mets are playing more three-hour games than ever before, you're absolutely right.  In fact, 86 of their 152 games have lasted over three hours.  And of those 86 affairs, 69 of them lasted only nine innings.  Incredibly, a dozen of those nine-inning games have lasted 3:30 or more.  Only one other time in Mets history has the team played more than 86 three-hour contests, more than 69 nine-inning games and more than 12 games that lasted three-and-a-half hours or longer.  That occurred in 2000, when the Mets played 87 three-hour games, 70 nine-inning games of three-plus hours and 13 three-and-a-half hour nine-inning games.  And the 2013 Mets still have ten games left on their schedule to pass the 2000 team.

Wake me up for the seventh inning stretch in about two-and-a-half hours or so.

During the Mets' first quarter century in the league, games did not take an obscene amount of time to complete, especially nine-inning games.  In fact, after playing nine games that took three-and-a-half hours to complete in 1962, the Mets played a total of ten such games from 1963 to 1986.

On September 13, 1972, the Mets defeated the Phillies, 11-6, in a nine-inning game that took three hours and 35 minutes to complete.  Incredibly, the Mets did not play another 3½-hour, nine-inning game for nearly 13 years!  When the Mets lost to the Expos, 5-4, on June 14, 1985, it marked the first time in almost 2,000 regular season games that a nine-inning game took at least three-and-a-half hours to complete, and it just barely made it, lasting exactly three hours and 30 minutes.

With the advent of ESPN nationally televised games (more commercials) and specialized relievers (more pitching changes) in the 1990s, the Mets have played in far more long nine-inning games over the years.  After never having played a four-hour nine-inning contest prior to the new millennium, the Mets have played five such games since 2000.  And since 1999, the Mets have played a whopping 104 nine-inning games that took at least three hours and 30 minutes to complete.  In the 37 seasons the Mets played before that, they managed to crack the 3½-hour mark in a nine-inning contest just 66 times.

On Tuesday night, the Mets lost an 8-5 decision to the Giants.  It took three hours and 55 minutes for the final verdict to be handed down in the bottom of the ninth.  Prior to 1999, the Mets had never played in a nine-inning game that needed as much as three hours and 55 minutes to complete.  Less than two weeks ago, the Mets and Indians played a low-scoring, 2-1 game.  You would think that game would have sped right along.  The time of the game was three hours and 43 minutes.

This isn't the type of baseball your parents grew up watching.  And if games continue to drag because of television and the over-managing of the bullpen, your children will find something more exciting to do to pass the time, preferably something that takes less time to complete than a nine-inning baseball game.

No comments: