America's pastime passes a lot more time than it used to. In 1981, nine innings lasted just over two and a half hours. In 2014, average game length topped three hours for the third straight season.
The differences in game speed -- as well as some of the underlying causes -- are readily apparent when comparing a single at-bat from a 1983 game between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees (the same game as George Brett's infamous pine tar incident) to an at-bat from a 2014 game between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. In the '83 at-bat, Royals designated hitter Hal McRae barely moves away from home plate as Yankees pitcher Shane Rawley, who doesn't step off the mound or seem to wave off very many signs from his catcher, fires off pitch after pitch. The entire confrontation consists of five pitches and lasts just 46 seconds. In the '14 at-bat, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles and Jake Peavy of the Red Sox meander through an five-pitch at-bat that stretches to one minute and 55 seconds.