Commissioner Rob Manfred is determined to get the average time of a baseball game under three hours, and perhaps even less than that. It seems he’s willing to do whatever it takes and as the most powerful man in the baseball universe, there’s almost nothing that can stop him... except for maybe the Giants?
The Giants were recently listed as the 4th-most valuable franchise in Major League Baseball by Forbes. Just going off that imprecise ranking, they have to be considered a “crown jewel” franchise of the sport. So, it wouldn’t make sense for the commissioner of the sport to take active measures to devalue his own jewel, but in the best interests of the game he’s been charged with protecting, growing, and using to bludgeon the federal government into making it so that the other team owners can abuse their would-be employees for no other reason than the cheap thrill of it all he might need to consider taking punitive measures against them to stop this one team from setting back his plan to shrink the time of a game. Giants games are longer when they win and shorter when they lose.
Game 1 - 2:55 (W) @ LAD
Game 2 - 2:23 (W) @ LAD
Game 3 - 2:43 (L) @ LAD
Game 4 - 2:47 (L) @ LAD
Game 5 - 3:02 (L) vs SEA
Game 6 - 2:52 (W) vs SEA
Game 7 - 5:16 (W) / 14 innings vs LAD
Game 8 - 3:04 (L) / 10 innings vs LAD
Game 9 - 2:33 (L) vs AZ
Game 10 - 3:24 (W) vs AZ
Game 11 - 3:09 (L) vs AZ
Game 12 - 2:47 (W) @ SD
Game 13 - 2:32 (L) @ SD
Game 14 - 2:59 (L) @ SD
Game 15 - 3:09 (L) @ SD
Game 16 - 2:05 (L) @ AZ
Game 17 - 3:44 (W) / 10 innings @ AZ
The average time of a major league game last season was 3 hours, 8 minutes. This season, per Baseball-Reference, it’s at 3 hours, 9 minutes. The Giants have played 17 and won 7 games. They’ve played a total of 3,084 minutes (or the first 4 innings of a Red Sox-Yankees game) already, making the average time of their games 3 hours and 2 minutes. But! If you remove the three extra innings games from the calculation, that plummets to 2,360 minutes played for an average time of game of 2 hours and 49 minutes... which is also the average time of game for the combined losses the Giants have suffered so far this season.
Congratulations, Major League Baseball. You’ve solved your pacing dilemma.
This means there’s a nonzero chance the Commissioner of Major League Baseball has or will think to himself or say aloud to a subordinate, “In order to save our Perfect Game, the San Francisco Giants must never win again.” It’s a line straight out of AIR BUD 25: BUDDY BONDS, but if you look at everything MLB’s considering to address the future of the game, then you’ll see that we’re living in the Air Bud Cinematic Universe. We are its canon.
I think it’s a good thing that the Giants lose quickly. It gives us more time to grouse about what went wrong. As the Buddha said, “Life is dukkha.” Pain is our natural state. We should be comfortable living in the Ls. Taking longer to win a game is Actually Good, too, because we get to savor it. And when it’s over and we see how much time has passed, it won’t feel like time wasted because we’ll have seen people succeed after a long struggle.
However, there’s a wrinkle we haven’t yet considered here: the Giants’ average time of game in losses includes the ridiculous outlier of Patrick Corbin’s one-hitter from the other night. That game was a breezy 2 hours, 5 minutes — 20 minutes shorter than a Judd Apatow movie! Half a Fast and Furious! Longer than Citizen Kane! Throw that out and the average time of a loss inflates to 2 hours, 53 minutes -- still in the Manfred Zone, but not in the “Holy crap! Amazing!” strata of which the Giants have now given the Commissioner’s office a taste.
Those extra four minutes were a commercial break or in-game sponsored segment or time for the kids to snap off some snaps on their snapchat boxes. Those four minutes could’ve led to four more minutes. And then four more minutes... four more minutes... another four... four... four... until a baseball game is reduced to one grunt, one snot rocket, or one swing and a miss.
But the Giants aren’t here to give the Commissioner what he wants. They’re here to rock. So they should be punk rock and win baseball games. And take as much time as they need to. Really explore the space (and time).