They say baseball is a timeless game. But for as good as Florida baseball has been this season and as enjoyable as they have been to watch, we also have other priorities in our lives. With the implementation of the pitch clock for the 2023 season, college baseball has attempted to speed up the timeless game.
Now that we are 22 games into the season, there is starting to be a large enough sample size that we can make some definitive statements in regard to the pitch clock.
Florida Baseball: Tick-tock
Last season, if we remove games that would have ended early due to this season’s new mercy rule, Florida baseball games took an average of 2:56. The median length was a touch higher at 2:59 per game.
23 of the 48 games we looked at went over three hours while five of the games went under 2:30.
This year Florida has had 14 games go the full nine innings. Five of those have gone over three hours. But Florida has already had five games go under 2:30, including the 1:50 contest against Alabama on Thursday.
The end result is that the average length of a nine-inning game this year is 2:43, with the median length being 2:42.
The translation is that Gator games are moving at a faster pace this year and the product is better off for it.
You may be a baseball purist that hates the idea of the pitch clock because part of the beauty of baseball is the drama. There is nothing quite like having a runner on second with two outs in the ninth in a one-run game and having the tension build with every pitch.
But what baseball purists are ignoring when they advocate against the pitch clock is that baseball in the 1970s used to only be 2:30 and up until the 1980s games were still taking under 2:40 with regularity.
Yes, some of the increase in time can be attributed to an increase in commercials. But SB Nation did a side-by-side comparison of a game from 1984 and a game from 2014 that had the same number of pitches, hits, pitching changes, etc. and the game from 1984 was 35 minutes shorter.
And no, it wasn’t due to 35 minutes of commercials.
And if the other counter-argument is “Well you dedicate 3:30 to a college football game,” I wish that was shortened too and that is only being asked of me 12 times a year, not 50+.
Baseball is a timeless game, but the much-needed nudge to keep the time moving has been a positive change.