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Long games' journey into nights: Cubs taking longer to play

Do slow games contribute to “bad baseball”–or the reverse?

It is a “chicken-and-egg” question with some truth to both sides.

What is fact is the Cubs are playing longer games this season.

Nine inning games are averaging 3 hours, one minute and 12 seconds. That is the seventh longest average in the majors this year, and third longest in the National League.

“Pitchers nibble and pitch counts are so much higher than they used to be,” manager Dale Sveum acknowledged. “Catchers set up off the plate when you want balls. In the old days, catchers set up behind the plate so more strikes were thrown. There certainly are more walks now.”

Television breaks contribute to longer times between innings, but in-game action has slowed as well.

And the Cubs are playing more bottom-of-the-ninth games at home because of games they trail.

“When you have so many more balls throw, that’s going to lead to more pitching changes,” Sveum said. “When both teams have a total of seven walks [as the Cubs and Dodgers did Friday], you’re talking about seven more hitters and more pitches.

“Guys take a pitch and step out and take 10 seconds before they get back in the box. You put 10 seconds [more] on every at-bat and that’s a lot of extra time.’

The Cubs used six pitchers on Friday who threw a combine 173 pitches. The Dodgers used five pitchers who threw a combine 149 pitches.