Let’s Sack MLB’s Extra Inning Idea
I have an idea: Let’s give the road team an extra run to start the game. Ooh ooh! I have another one! Let’s start the sixth inning with 2-0 count. No, no, no. I’ve got it. Let’s let a popcorn vendor pick which seven defenders will be allowed on the field.
If you think these ideas for changes to the game of baseball are lunacy, I’ve got news for you.
But the scary thing is they aren’t as far-fetched as you might think, since they are akin to what Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has proposed, according to ESPN and the Athletic.
Manfred, as a way to reduce the average time it takes to play a game thinks keeping extra inning games from running their natural course would do the trick. He is in talks with the players’ union to start a runner at second base once a game reaches extra innings.
In a vacuum the idea makes sense, I guess, a little. If you have a runner at second base with nobody out, that runner is libel to score 63.7 percent of the time according to quora.com.
Okay. Game over in an inning. Great. Baseball’s average time went down even though the other 14 games that day took just as long.
Here’s the problem, and it’s a big one for a sport struggling to hold onto its place in America’s heart. You’re robbing the game of drama that the game desperately needs to hold onto.
Consider: If this idiotic idea had been in place Los Angeles Dodger Max Muncy would never of gotten the chance to take a Nathan Eovaldi 90 mph offering over the left-field wall to win Game 3 of the 2018 World Series over the Boston Red Sox…in the 18th inning. Instead of Muncy having one of the greatest all-time moments in World Series or postseason history (New York Met Robin Ventura’s grand slam against the Atlanta Braves in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the ’99 National League Championship Series wasn’t bad either!) we instead would be (or not) talking about, “Hey do you remember who that one guy was that got to take second due to some trumped up Major League mess before… who was it? hit a single? double? I don’t remember.”
Okay. so just for the sake of argument, say we did this thing. Can we answer these questions: How would earned-run average be affected? Would a relief pitcher get dinged for the run he gives up, even though the guy at second did nothing to get there? Does the pitcher before the reliever get dinged because he couldn’t win the game outright? Does the runner at second get credit towards his on-base percentage even though he didn’t do anything to warrant being at second base? Does his batting average, slugging, wins-above-replacement go up?
Baseball generations are compared by their stats. With the exception of the abolition of the spitball and the addition of the designated hacker, the game has stayed largely the same for 120 years.
Its greatest gift is its drama. In soccer the goals scored are not the thing that keep people watching, it’s the artistry and the planning that goes into shots on goal…and the hope that one of those compositions turns into a beautiful song.
The same holds for all the machinations that go into trying to get a guy on base, trying to get him in position to score and then doing something to allow him to score or at least try to. Putting a runner on second may work for local beer league softball which has a 50 minute cap for games played and an umpire who’s an five-star jerk. But, it shouldn’t come anywhere near a major league ball field.
Yes, baseball games can get a little long. There are solutions for this. The biggest solution wears a mask and a chest protector and stands right behind the catcher. But baseball has been seemingly loathe to mandate the men in blue and gray run the game. And because of that, they will soon probably be responsible for deciding if the pitcher gets into his motion before the 20-second clock reaches zero, instead of just yelling out to the pitcher, “Hey, hurry it up.”
Now, I’ve ruminated on this quite long enough and I’m going to cut this short. I just left my daughter’s three-quarter basketball game and we’re on our way to Clockwatcher Pines Golf and Country Club.
The club is very proud. The length of the average round is now just a shade over 18 minutes! Really though, gotta run. We’re due to start our round halfway down the 14th fairway.