- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
LOS ANGELES -- A high-ranking executive melded all of the lingering issues of the era into one conversation, as if listing a recipe for change.
The games are often played too slowly, he noted. The audience of Major League Baseball is aging, with polls indicating that the youngest generation expects faster and fastest in what it consumes.
At the same time, the exec said, teams are struggling to find enough good pitching -- and, at the same time, the number of injuries is skyrocketing. If oblique strains were the prevalent injury two years ago, ulnar collateral ligament strains are the ailment du jour. Top prospect Jameson Taillon of the Pirates is the latest pitcher to be headed for Tommy John surgery; maybe he'll bump into Bobby Parnell along the way.
The executive went for his punch line, a thought so far outside the box that it either represents the absurd, or the future.
"I think they ought to change the games to seven innings," he said.
Seven innings? You mean, in each game? Seven innings instead of nine?
"Seven innings," he said again, and he went on to explain that if baseball adopted this, it could represent a tonic for all the problems he sees.
Seven innings instead of nine would mean the games would finish closer to two-and-a-half hours than three hours or longer.