The Anatomy of Baseball; The Anatomy of Story

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered featured an intriguing story about baseball yesterday. In it, Robert Siegel talks to Wall Street Journal reporter David Biderman about his analysis of how many minutes of action there is in a typical broadcast of a Major League Baseball game.

Guess how many minutes of action?


Really. Fourteen minutes in that long (sometimes paint drying long) game. Biderman’s measurement was from the moment when the pitcher raises his leg and  throws the ball to the moment when the umpire calls the play. Biderman clicked a stopwatch on and off stringing those seconds together to add up to fourteen minutes, on average, per game.

Everything else in the game from the manager walking slowly to the mound so his relief pitcher could warm up longer to the catcher walking out to the mound to chat with the pitcher and screw with the batter is drama. The action serves the richness of the world that is baseball.

This NPR feature makes me thing about writing of course. If we wrote down the action moments in our stories, how many pages would it take up? By action, I mean, the inciting incident, the climax to the resolution. Would it even take up a page? Maybe it would only require a paragraph. Or a sentence. Every thing else is texture, setting, character description. The action serves the richness of the world that is story.

Guess how much action the rough and tumble game of football has?

Eleven minutes.

Positively spare compared to baseball.