Each of the 30 MLB teams plays 162 regular season games. That makes 2430 games total in the regular season. (15 x 162, not 30 x 162, because the teams have to play each other). There are then 4 division series of up to 5 games, 2 league series of up to 7 games, and a World Series of up to 7 games. So that adds up to 41 postseason games. There is also the potential for a one game tiebreaker series in each division, and the wildcard. So that’s up to 8 more games.
Here’s where we stand so far:
2430 regular season games
41 postseason games
8 tiebreaker games
2479 potential games in a single season of Major League Baseball
What? What’s that? Why on earth are we doing this? Oh, I forgot to explain. I want to see how long it would take someone to watch a billion (1,000,000,000) baseball games. There’s a clip in a commercial on MLB Network where a commentator says “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in the one billion games I’ve seen.” And being a bit pedantic, I suspect that the gentleman in question has not, in fact, seen one billion baseball games. So I’m gonna do some math about it! You like math, right? You’re a baseball fan, just call it ‘statistics.’ I’ll put it under the cut, so you can skip the really meaty part, if you want to.
Okay, back to work.
We’ll throw in the All-Star game for good measure, and call it a nice round 2480 games maximum in a season. If these are the only baseball games that someone is watching in a given year, and assuming that all 2480 games are played each year, it would take more than 403,225 seasons to accumulate one billion games. Most people don’t live that long.
According to Stats LLC, the average length of a baseball game in 2009 was 2:52.
There has been a well-documented lengthening of games in recent years, so we will round up the length of the game to 3 hours as of 2011. If you are watching one game at a time, you can only watch 2920 games in 365 days. However, as we all know, there is usually more than one game going on at any given time.
So, let’s say there are 15 games being played every day, year-round. That’s 5475 games a year. It would still take 182,648 years to watch a billion games. But I want to give every opportunity to see as many games as possible. There are 16 games being played today. If we discount the only day game, the first in a doubleheader between the Giants and Cubs, the first of the 15 night games starts at 7:05 pm EST, and the last is slated to end at 1:10 am EST. That’s 6 hours for all 15 games to be played. That means that four times as many games can actually be played over the course of 24 hours.
If that happens, 60 games a day, still only between the 30 Major League teams, 21,900 games can be played in a year. And at that rate, it will take 45,662 years. Which is a dramatic decrease, but still out of reach for most humans. Let’s take a break, here’s a cute kitten:
Ahhh, that was nice! Kitties are the cutest!
Let’s try this again, from the opposite direction. Say a man lives to be 75 years old, which is the average life expectancy for males in the United States. If he was, in fact, to be able to watch a billion baseball games in his life, from the moment he was born, until the moment he died, with no sleep or breaks at all, he would have to watch over 36,000 games a day.
That is… a lot. I guess you could do it, if you had 36,000 TVs at once. But I doubt you could really take much information away from any of them. Also, you would probably hate baseball pretty quickly. So the lesson here is that 1,000,000,000 is a very, very big number, and that sometimes sports commentators exaggerate things while they make a call.
Come back next week, when I do all this math again, taking leap years into account! Just kidding. Maybe.