PHOENIX (AP) — Thanks to the pitch clock, the action in Major League Baseball games moves much faster.
Also, fans have a little less time to enjoy the icy adult beverage.
To combat that time crunch, at least four teams — the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers — have extended alcohol sales into the eighth inning this season. Others, like the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, still have seventh-inning cutoffs but have not ruled out changes.
“It makes perfect sense to me,” said Tom Lienhardt, sipping a beer Tuesday night before the Brewers-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field. “The games are short, and you have to adjust.”
Teams have historically stopped selling alcohol after the seventh.
At least one team, the Baltimore Orioles, already sold alcohol through the eighth inning or 3 1/2 hours after the first pitch, whichever came first.
MLB games were significantly shorter this season, largely due to a series of rule changes, most notably the new pitch clock. In the first 1 1/2 weeks of the season, average playing time dropped 31 minutesThe sport’s lowest streak since 1984.
Last season the minor leagues played with a pitch clock. At least one minor league general manager — Kevin Mahoney of the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones — said there was no drop in concession sales. Even with short games.
However, some major league teams have felt the need to make changes.
The Rangers allowed some alcohol sales in the eighth inning last season, but have made that option more widely available in 2023. The team said the move to offer all-seat service — where fans can order on their phones — was done partly as a reaction. A pitch clock and the possibility of shorter game times so fans don’t have to miss out on extended action waiting in line at the concession stands.
Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger Confirmed on MLB.com Their team’s move to extend the sale of alcohol to the Eighth is an experiment.
“If we feel that it’s causing a problem or that it might cause a problem, we’ll go back to what we did before,” Schlesinger said.
MLB says it does not regulate when teams sell alcohol. Most owners used the seventh inning as a cutoff to avoid over-serving customers who could at least get in their cars and go home.
But in reality, most teams already had areas around the ballpark where fans could get alcohol after the seventh, even if the concession was discontinued. Many parks are attached to restaurants or have VIP areas where the booze still flows.
“If we cut off sales in the seventh inning, eighth inning or ninth inning, it doesn’t really affect our position, because regardless, we don’t want people driving home from the game drinking,” he said. Erin Peyton, regional executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
AP baseball writers Ronald Blum, Noah Drister and Stephen Hawkins and AP sports writers Dave Campbell, Alanis Thames and Ryan Kryska contributed to this report.
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