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Baseball games weren't always this long and boring. Here's how they got this way.

Joss Fong is a founding member of the Vox video team and a producer focused on science and tech. She holds a master's degree in science, health, and environmental reporting from NYU.

Baseball is facing a bit of a demographic challenge: Half of MLB's TV audience is 55+ years old and fewer kids are playing in Little League.

As we explain in the video above, one of the ways the league hopes to address this trend is by speeding up the pace of play.

In the 2014 season, game duration hit a record high — more than 3 hours. And that's the average. New rules implemented in 2015 have cut around 6 minutes of game time so far — not bad, but a far cry from games in the 1970s:

MLB average game time

There isn't one main thing slowing down the games. Instead, it's hundreds of small delays compounded over each pitch and each plate appearance in each inning. SB Nation's Grant Brisbee explains what this looks like, in the 9th inning of a one-run game between rivals, which should have been thrilling:

Joe Nathan threw a first-pitch strike to Mike Moustakas. It took him 27 seconds after receiving the ball to throw the next pitch. After throwing a ball, Nathan took 23 seconds before delivering his next pitch. Moustakas stepped out, stepped in. Nathan looked in, shook off, caught butterflies, made a wish after blowing away dandelion spores ... it was interminable.

It's hard to tell these players to hurry up. After all, they're performing incredible, freakish skills. But it's also unclear that this type of fidgeting helps:


Is there something wrong with the gloves? (Vox/MLB)

The new rules this year targeted the time that hitters spend outside the batter's box. But there are other factors slowing down the games that are much harder to address.

Check out the video above to see what's lengthening the games and how MLB hopes to fix it.