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The Tuesday Discussion: MLB’s New Extra Inning Rule

This week we asked our writers,

“How do you feel about the new MLB extra-inning rule?

Here are their responses…

Derek McAdam – Although I am not a huge fan of the new extra-inning rule, it is smart to incorperate into play. Having a runner on second base to begin each half-inning is going to put even more pressure on pitchers to keep the game tied. I would have no problem keeping the typical extra-inning rules, but baseball is looking out for the overall health of all the players and that is what matters most during these times.

Lincoln Mitchell – This is a dreadful idea for many reasons, but will only focus on one here. Starting extra innings this way solves a problem that doesn’t exist. Most baseball fans enjoy extra inning games. The tension each inning is exciting but as the game goes on there is also the potential for weirdness-position players pitching, backup infielders catching, television shots of empty crowds etc. The problem for baseball is not the rare 18 inning marathon but the regular nine inning game that lasts three hours or more. This rule eliminates a positive aspect about the game while doing nothing about a negative.

Ed Botti – I think the extra inning rule is another example of Commissioner Manfred’s terrible management and decision making abilities and just how disingenuous he and Selig before him, actually are. The game has changed to the point of record setting strikeouts and home runs set each year due to the current emphasis on the power game and home runs.

So now, at the most critical point of the game, lets reintroduce small ball? Am I missing something? All of his, and the teams, analytical “experts” frown upon the bunt. They have been telling us for years it is a wasted at bat, and selling us strikeouts and home runs.

Now, as a result of this foolish rule, almost every lead off hitter in extra inning games will be bunting. We’ll now see how wrong they all were.

What’s next? 7 inning games, and 4 outs per inning?

I understand 2020 is an atypical year, but Baseball is still Baseball. Either play it the right way, or don’t bother.

Bad move Manfred.

Paul Semendinger – I hate this. It is a terrible idea. Horrible. The people who are running baseball are making rules that make no sense and that take the enjoyment of the game away from the fans. Since when do we give teams free base runners? And for what purpose? To speed up the game at its most exciting point? Extra innings used to be “free baseball.” A bonus for the fans. Now they’ll get a gimmick – and a horrible one at that.

This rule actually rewards failure. Let’s say Rickey Henderson in his prime is up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game against Mariano Rivera. What are the odds that he’d reach base and score with two outs? Very little. But, if he makes the last out, he’s the player rewarded with being put on second base at the beginning of the next inning. If I were the manager, or even the player, I’d strike out on purpose to be put at second base with no outs in the next inning. It’s the smart play. It’s the only play in that situation.

With 30-man rosters, teams can also now keep a fast player on the roster just for extra innings – to be the pinch-runner, especially if it’s the bottom of the inning and the odds are that that player will never have to play in the field or bat in that game.

It’s a joke. It’s an insult to the fans and an insult to the game.

The people who run baseball continue to do things to destroy the game.

Patrick Gunn – I am in favor of MLB trying the new extra-inning rule this season. The rule worked wonders in the Minor Leagues and in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and it helps games from going too long. I understand why baseball purists would not want to drastically change the game and influence how extra innings work. However, the possibility of a 15+ inning game in baseball’s current situation (with a limited number of pitchers available because of COVID-19 limits), MLB needs to keep games as close to nine innings as possible. Also, this brings back strategy to extra innings. Do you bunt the runner over to third base immediately? Do you walk the first batter of the inning to set up a potential double-play? Or do you just let your pitcher go to work? Overall, I think that the benefits of the new extra-inning rule outweighs the costs for this season.

Mike Whiteman – I’m OK with the new extra-inning rule for 2020. This seems to be a reasonable measure to take strain off what could be some very taxed pitching staffs this summer. One thing it could do is create a level of excitement right away upon moving into extra innings.

James Vlietstra – The extra inning rule seems like a rule you use during little league tournaments and college softball games to artificially create a time limit. The beauty of baseball is there is no clock. It should not be used in MLB. Any given year could have close to 7% of its games go to extra innings. Strategy is important. Stats are sacred. Fans that have watched the first 9 innings are usually intrigued enough to continue watching it to the end, regardless of length. It’d be like an NFL offense getting a 12th offensive player for the last 2 minutes of a game. The question is: For what?

Tom Russo – I honestly don’t have a problem with it. In theory a baseball game could go on forever and at some point there has to be a way to stop it. You physically can’t have players going 16, 17, 18 innings. It’s not in the players’ interests to risk their health, it’s not in the fans’ interest to sit and watch an unending game. This will help avoid both of those, and add an interesting element to extra innings. Any pitcher who comes in is immediately into the fire, and there is automatically a level of intrigue at the start of every half inning that wasn’t there before so I say, let’s see it.

Andy Singer – From a strategy standpoint, I hate the new extra innings rule. In the majority of extra inning games, the home team is going to bunt the runner over to third base, and the away team is going to walk the next batter to create a force. I see very little that interests me from a manufactured pressure scenario that tips the manager’s hand. Between that and the oddities surrounding the unearned run statistics that will come from scoring runners that are automatically placed at second base, I am not a fan of the new rule. However, I understand that the schedule is compressed, and neither players nor the league want to see the games extend much past 3.5 hours under these conditions. In context, I’ll live with it for a year, but I sincerely hope the rule isn’t here to stay – this just isn’t baseball.


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