Perhaps the biggest complaint non-baseball fans have about the sport is that it is boring. Often, they point to the pace of the game to make the argument.
In an NFL game in 2010 there were an average (mean) of 126 plays. Baseball doesn’t have plays in a strict sense, and its timing is, obviously, far more dependent on the action on the field, given the lack of a clock. But say you count a pitch as a play: there are almost always at least 200 in a game, and often 250 or 300.
Now consider: A typical NFL game takes three hours. That is on the long side for an MLB game, even though an MLB game will always have more plays than an NFL game, at least based on the above definitions of a play.
One’s perception of time when watching the two sports on television may be where the complaints arise. While every pitch in a baseball game has the potential to create action, most do not realize that potential. The ball gets thrown back to the pitcher and–especially if he works slowly–you wait for the next one, but generally there is not much to review. Meanwhile, after every football play, the next 30 seconds can be used for replays, since football doesn’t have the problem.
But, how often in football is there a commercial, followed by a kickoff, and immediately followed by more commercials?
Anyway, it would seem that it’s not so much that baseball has more inaction than football, just that it’s easier to cover up the inaction in NFL broadcasts than MLB broadcasts.