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Should MLB playoff games be earlier? Are long games actually bad? TV analysts weigh in on baseball postseason

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Despite Major League Baseball’s efforts to speed up the pace of play, the amount of time it took to play a game during the 2021 regular season set a record, averaging three hours and 10 minutes.

Now that we’ve reached the postseason, games have the potential to last even longer – with additional commercial time for the television networks and more pitching changes by the playoff teams with so much on the line.

However, the playoffs also mean more drama – and longer games aren’t necessarily a bad thing, according to Baseball Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.

“Just because it’s the postseason and we are having the best teams out there go compete makes it fun. … So the games don’t seem to be as long,” Martinez said on a conference call Tuesday to kick off TBS's coverage of the National League playoffs.

“And also, because the better teams are the ones playing, the mistakes are less. So you figure that the game is going to be a little shorter and a lot more fun.”

Red Sox players warm up at Fenway Park the day before the AL wild-card game against the Yankees.
Red Sox players warm up at Fenway Park the day before the AL wild-card game against the Yankees.

Martinez, along with former players-turned-analysts Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson and host Ernie Johnson Jr., will be in the TBS studio before and after every NL playoff game this postseason, starting with Wednesday's NL wild-card clash between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.

Those long games could keep the studio crew up late on game nights, but Granderson sees a possible solution to that issue.

“Maybe bump the game time up. Because now everyone has the ability to watch the game on their device, by their tablet, while they’re on the move. They don’t have to just get home to watch the game,” he suggested.

“So if this game goes to 8:00 Eastern to even 7:30 or 7:00 Eastern, that may solve this problem and the length of the game can stay the same. You don’t have to change any rules and hopefully, it finishes up a little bit earlier.”

Johnson added that if the games are compelling, viewers won’t care how long they are. “Watching one of those games that’s dragging on in June,” he said, “is a little different from one in October, when sometimes you’re saying, ‘Man, I hope this thing doesn’t end.’”

One of MLB’s time-saving rules from the regular season, starting extra innings with a runner on second base, will not be in effect during the playoffs.

“You play 162 games to get to this point,” Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, said. “When it comes to the playoffs, you don’t take that away from the players by saying we have to have time restraints.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB playoffs' start times should be moved up, veteran says