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More Fun with Box Scores

Publication Date: August 23, 2005

No Place Better to Be

I've got to admit, I've never really understood that whole set of complaints about games being too long. I mean, when the game's over, you have to go somewhere else eventually, and the odds are pretty good it won't be anywhere better than the ballpark, if there is such a place, so what's your hurry? Nonetheless, this week I thought I'd take a look at some figures on average game length. I had figured that it would tie fairly closely into the likelihood of a team being on TV, but I found some vaguely surprising results.

As with last week's attendance figures, these are approximate based on what actually made it into the box scores; they cover around 90% of the games. The one big gotcha is that the time field seems to get filled in with the ending time rather than the game length at times, but that doesn't happen often enough to really matter. I didn't do any correction for innings played, so teams who played too many 7-inning doubleheaders get affected.

The average game last year was 2 hours and 42 minutes long, well under the professional average of a bit over 3 hours, mostly due to the TV factor. The longest game that I could find was a 5 hour, 22 minute marathon between Cal State Northridge and UNLV on February 5; second was the 14-inning Arizona-Arizona State affair on 2/15 at 5:13. The shortest was the second game of a Tennessee-Tennessee Temple doubleheader on 4/26, which came in at only 70 minutes.

Here, then, are the 25 teams who spent the least amount of time on the field this year:

2:12 Cornell
2:13 Columbia
2:13 Sacred Heart
2:16 Dartmouth
2:16 Oakland
2:16 St. Francis
2:17 Princeton
2:17 Wagner
2:18 Central Connecticut State
2:19 Fairleigh Dickinson
2:19 Ohio State
2:20 Dayton
2:20 Mount St. Mary's
2:20 St. Bonaventure
2:21 Bucknell
2:21 Xavier
2:22 Buffalo
2:23 North Dakota State
2:23 Yale
2:24 Holy Cross
2:24 Longwood
2:24 Monmouth
2:24 Western Illinois
2:24 Wofford
2:25 Bradley

And here are the 25 who took the longest:

3:22 Cal State Northridge
3:21 UCLA
3:21 Arizona
3:18 Cal State Fullerton
3:16 Arizona State
3:13 Loyola Marymount
3:10 UC Irvine
3:10 Oklahoma
3:08 Cal Poly
3:07 Nevada-Las Vegas
3:07 Long Beach State
3:07 Charleston Southern
3:06 Southern California
3:06 Santa Clara
3:05 San Diego
3:05 Oregon State
3:04 UC Santa Barbara
3:04 San Diego State
3:03 New Mexico
3:02 Pepperdine
3:02 Miami, Florida
3:01 UC Riverside
3:01 St. Mary's
3:01 Stetson
3:01 New Mexico State

If you think you're starting to spot a pattern, pat yourself on the head. Just for confirmation, here's the average length of a conference game for each conference:

2:09 NEC
2:16 Mid-Continent
2:17 Patriot
2:19 Ivy
2:21 Atlantic 10
2:27 MAAC
2:28 Big Ten
2:28 Horizon
2:29 MVC
2:30 Big East
2:32 Independents
2:32 OVC
2:34 MAC
2:34 MEAC
2:35 America East
2:41 Southern
2:42 CAA
2:42 SWAC
2:43 WAC
2:45 Southland
2:46 Atlantic Sun
2:48 C-USA
2:48 SEC
2:49 Big 12
2:49 Big South
2:53 ACC
2:53 Sun Belt
2:59 Mountain West
3:02 WCC
3:10 Pac 10
3:11 Big West

All told, this doesn't really seem to be all that TV-driven. The Big West, in particular, doesn't get all that much airtime, while SEC games are on almost as often as the Braves. There's probably a weather factor at work here, since it's easier to take your time when you're not freezing. Given the regionalization of the umpiring pool (a subject that probably could stand a bit more attention), that may be a factor in why the games tend to last longer out west.

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> More Fun with Box Scores About the author, Boyd Nation