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Whether they leave their sports having caused them considerable damage is also a fair question.

Back to that baseball game from Wednesday night. A nine-inning game that lasts 3:40 isn’t unusual by baseball’s modern standards. Just last year, two of the first three World Series games took more than four hours to complete, despite neither going to extra innings. But 3:40 is also stupidly long for a baseball game. That is longer than The Irishman, a film that I still haven’t managed to watch in a single sitting. It’s longer than the combined running time of the first two John Wick movies, minus the closing credits, and exactly as long as the first eight episodes of Emily in Paris, if that’s more your thing.

Beane didn’t set out to make baseball games longer and with less on-field action, but the path he charted ended up having that effect. By realizing the value of a walk, he sought players who worked counts in favour of those who went up to the plate looking to take hacks at whatever was thrown. As that strategy was adopted across the sport, the number of pitches per plate appearance has slowly but steadily increased. And as every team started paying more attention to what statistics told them, the game changed in other ways. Pitching changes are more frequent, and bullpens are stacked with between one and four fire-breathing dragons who are deployed at the first sign of trouble rather than let pitchers try to escape problems of their own making. More hitters wait for a pitch they can drive rather than just try to make contact.

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