For the others, the details are more difficult to come by due to either a lack of a clock (baseball) or considerable periods of inactivity while the clock is running (soccer to some extent, but mainly football). Baseball: According to a 2013 WSJ survey, baseball games last 17 minutes and 58 seconds. That's about average for sports across America.
But what if you want to know how long the ball is in play? That depends on how far it travels before being put out of reach. If it goes less than 60 feet, it's part of the game and remains in play until it is caught or falls beyond the field of play. If it goes 61-100 feet, it's an automatic double and the runner at first base is awarded two bases. If it goes 101-150 feet, it's a triple and three bases are awarded. If it goes 151-200 feet, it's a home run and four bases are awarded, etc.
The distance that the ball travels after leaving the bat is called its "height" or "lie". The higher it flies, the farther it can travel before hitting the ground. A ball that stays within 60 feet of the plate usually doesn't go very far, so it's common practice for fans to wear gloves when watching baseball to prevent hand injuries from foul balls. Balls that travel further tend to be hit with such force that they often break windows, injure bystanders, and even kill people who aren't paying attention.
But how much genuine activity occurs during a baseball game? We made the decision to find out. According to WSJ calculations, a baseball fan will watch 17 minutes and 58 seconds of action throughout a three-hour game. This is comparable to a TED Talk, a Broadway intermission, or a missing chunk of the Watergate recordings.
Here's how this came about. We bought a ticket to a Chicago White Sox game with our favorite writer, John Powers of the Journal Sentinel. We arrived early, so we decided to walk around the stadium before the game while we waited for our friends who were running late.
As we walked through the concourse, we noticed there were several bars/restaurants with large screens showing baseball games. We wondered if they showed all baseball games or just certain teams' games. So we asked someone at one of these places if they showed every game. They said yes, but that some of the more popular games could not be seen from where they stood.
This surprised us because we had always thought that any given ballpark would show all its games. We asked another question: If they show only some games, then why are there still other people watching them? The answer was that some games are worth watching and others aren't. Some games have great pitching matchups or special events going on (like home runs or hit songs) while other games are pretty dull.
We realized then that not all games are created equal.
Baseball games vary in length, but the average Major League Baseball game lasts slightly more than three hours. Baseball games in the major leagues, lower leagues, and colleges all last nine innings, however minor league and collegiate games are often shorter. A baseball game consists of five periods; each period has a different name depending on how many pitches there are in an inning.
The first period is called the "top of the first inning." The second period is called the "bottom of the first inning." The fourth period is called the "bottom of the second inning." The fifth and final period is called the "top of the third inning."
During a game, time is kept for both teams by a umpire who calls out "time" when it is his or her turn. This way, no one can say that game time was not kept properly because it was not exactly three hours and fifty-five minutes long. Although this does not happen very often, there have been cases where an umpire has made a mistake and started the next period before time had been called out. In this case, the error would not be corrected until after the next period had started.
An hour and fifteen minutes into a game, if it is still going, the top of the ninth inning will be called followed by the bottom of the ninth.
A game is officially 60 minutes long. This time period is broken into four 15-minute halves. There is a two-minute break between the first and second quarters, as well as the third and fourth. Between the second and third quarters, there is a lengthier halftime break.
The first half of the game starts when the ball is placed in play by an umpire. The end of the first quarter is determined by an official call of "time". When this happens, all players must take their positions at the top of their slides, and any swinging of arms or legs must stop. A new ball may be used during this time if both teams agree to it. Otherwise, the ball will have to be replaced after three throws by an umpire.
After the end of the first quarter, the second half begins. If the score is tied at the end of the third quarter, another two-minute break is added to allow for more batting practice or additional pitching changes. If the score is still tied at the end of the fourth quarter, the game continues indefinitely until one team wins by default.
In other words, the first half of the game ends when the ball is dead. The second half ends when one team wins by default. If the game is not yet finished after four quarters, then it lasts until someone scores a run or commits a error.
The inning lasted one hour and eight minutes in total. In a three-hour baseball game, each inning might last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. A half-inning should last roughly 3-5 minutes if the pitcher is on and there are no hits. If the opposite side achieves the same result, that one inning might take 8–15 minutes. In addition, two consecutive innings with no scores change into a bench-clearing situation where anything can happen. In this case, the umpires will stop the game until the dust settles.
In conclusion, one inning in a three-hour baseball game lasts between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on how many runs are scored.
Only 150 milliseconds However, batters have far less time to decide what to do. It takes around 100 milliseconds, or a tenth of a second, for information about the pitch—its speed, direction, and location—to go from eye to brain. Another 150 milliseconds pass before the hitter begins to swing and gets the bat over the plate. That's half a second total, which is why it seems like an eternity while you're waiting for your turn at the plate.
Bats are heavy, which is one reason they take so long to swing. A major league batter weighs about 220 pounds, and that includes any gear he might be wearing on his body (batting helmet, chest protector, etc.). The more stuff you carry in your hands or on your body, the slower you will be able to get the ball into play.
Another factor is the length of the batter's stride. Batteries need time to set their feet before they begin their swings. Shortstops and second basemen usually don't reach full speed until they have covered half their home run distance. They use up most of that time setting their feet and getting ready to hit.
Finally, bats are made of wood, which is weighty material to lift and wield at high speeds. All things being equal, the heavier the tool, the harder it is to control.