How long does the average baseball game last?

Major League Baseball is vowing to shorten the average length of its games.

Officials have other ideas in mind in an effort to move things along. Last year's average was 2 hours and 54 minutes. Under the theory that most baseball games should not last longer than "Ben-Hur," action is being taken.

Games are to start on time (a revolutionary idea). Pitchers are to throw the ball within 12 seconds after the batter gets in the box, if no one is on base. If it's long enough to run the 110-meter hurdles, it's long enough to throw a slider.

I do not know if they plan to install something like a basketball shot clock behind home plate.

Pitching changes are to take no longer than 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Which, in the case of some bullpens, might be longer than the reliever lasts.

Breaks between half-innings for commercials are to be strictly kept at 2 minutes, 5 seconds or 2 minutes, 25 seconds for nationally televised games.

That's a knee-slapper. Games are routinely delayed so the networks can squeeze in a sitcom promo here, or a news show plug there. Baseball shouldn't put a stopwatch on the field, it should put one in the production truck.

Only 10 seconds of music between at-bats. How long should it take to play "Charge!" on the organ?

One other thing. Hitters are to bring two extra bats to the on-deck circle, in case they either break one or need a spare to go after the pitcher.

"What we want to do," said Bob Watson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations, "is basically cut down the dead time."

By that, I don't think he meant eliminating the Pittsburgh Pirates' at-bats.

It is an admirable effort. There is nothing wrong with long games if there is enough baseball to fill the hours. But a lot of today's 3-hour games should be 2 hours and 40 minutes.

And the postseason often does not have games, but epochs.