Now that the playoffs and World Series are over, maybe some baseball fans can get some sleep. Starting the night games earlier would help, but don't expect that to happen.
The average time of a game during the recent baseball postseason was nearly 3 hours - 3:22. At least that's quicker than in 2009 when the games were averaging 3:30.
That's longer than the regular season games this year. They averaged 2:59. The slowest team was Boston which averaged 3:10 to play its games while the quickest were Miami, Toronto and Kansas City which average 2:50 to complete a game.
The main reason the games take longer now is television. Every game is televised which means the time between half innings is extended because of commercials.
Back when I was a die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan in the 1960s, other than a few big-city teams, not every game was on television for major league teams. Cable television was in the future.
An exciting thing during every Pirates' offseason was when you heard the schedule of games that would be televised, and it never included home games. There was an average of 35 games televised each season and you marked those dates on your calendar. And because those games were locally televised, the TV production didn't run the game. When an inning was ready to begin, it did and the umpires didn't hold up anything for TV commercials.
And back then, a game didn't take all day or all night to play. That is why night games had later starting times.
Here is something very interesting. Now we are accustomed to major league night games beginning at 7 or 7:30 p.m. But one of the first teams to play at 7 p.m. was Philadelphia in the early 1970s.
Prior to that, 8 p.m. was the normal starting time. But Pittsburgh was an exception. Into the late 1960s, games at Forbes Field always started at 8:15 p.m. I have no idea why there was a 15-minute later starting time. I quizzed Sally O'Leary, a long-time employee of the Pirates during that era, and she had no idea. This past summer I asked Jim Leyland's wife, Katie, who had also worked in the team's front office if she knew why and she didn't.
My guess was maybe because of shifts at steel mills back when night games started at Forbes Field and the start time just became habit.
But what is amazing is that even though the games began at 8:15 p.m., they were usually over by 10:30 p.m. and rarely did a game end close to 11 p.m.
I recently went on a nostalgia trip to check that out and dug out a couple of old notebooks in which I recorded facts about every Pirates' game, including spring training games, for the 1965 and 1966 seasons.
Talk about someone with too much time on his hands! That time probably could have been used on school work.
A check in the 1965 notebook showed that Pittsburgh's opening game on April 12 was a sign of things to come. The game at Forbes Field went 10 innings and both starting pitchers went all the way. Pittsburgh's Bob Veale tossed a three-hit 1-0 win over San Francisco's Juan Marichal and the time of the game was only 2:03.
The teams played the next night and the game was completed in 2:18.
On April 14, the Pirates lost to Los Angeles, 3-1, and it was the first game played in less than two hours with a time of 1:58.
And there were more sub-two-hour games to come.
On June 10 at the Astrodome, Veale pitched a complete game, 4-2 win in 1:55. On Aug. 7 at the Astrodome the tables turned when Robin Roberts had a complete game, 3-0 win over the Pirates in 1:58.
The quickest game was at Wrigley Field on July 27 with two complete games by Pittsburgh's Don Cardwell and Chicago's Bill Faul and the Cubs won, 5-0, in only 1:36.
Cardwell had a ''slow'' complete game win at Wrigley Field on Oct. 2 when he defeated the Cubs, 3-0, in 1:45.
The longest game of the season was on July 1 at St. Louis. The Cardinals used eight pitchers and the Pirates five in a 7-6 win for the home team and it took 3:24.
That time is about the usual time to play a game today - and so is using 13 pitchers!
It should be noted that in 1965, the Pittsburgh pitching staff had 47 complete games and won 40 of them. The Pirates had 36 in 1966 and that might be why they played only three games in under two hours.
On June 9 at Forbes Field, Alvin Jackson of the Cardinals pitched a 4-2 complete-game win in 1:58. Five days later, again at Forbes Field, Jim Maloney of Cincinnati and Woody Fryman of the Pirates pitched complete games in 1:57 and the Reds won, 3-0. On July 25 at Candlestick Park, Juan Marichal of the Giants pitched a 2-1 complete-game win in 1:59.
There were a few games that almost broke the two-hour barrier.
The second major-league game ever played in Atlanta on April 13 found Vernon Law pitching a 6-0 complete-game win over the Braves in 2:04. Marichal pitched a 3-0 complete game win at Forbes Field in 2:01 on May 12 and on July 11, Veale tossed a 10-4 complete game victory over the Cubs in 2:02.
And there were seven more games played in less than 2:10!
That's why back then, a game running past 11 p.m. was very rare.
Times have changed and now we are living in a fast-paced world, but not when it comes to major league baseball.