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The Tuesday Discussion: Our Writers On The Extra Inning Rule

This week we asked our writers to share their thoughts on Major League Baseball’s Extra Inning rule:

Here are their responses:

Patrick Gunn – I don’t mind the extra-inning rule for the regular season. I love baseball but 15-20 inning games are too long both for fans and for pitching staffs for teams that play 162 games. Keeping the game shorter during the summer months will help teams and pitchers immensely. Now, this rule should never see the light of day in the postseason for the same reason the NHL doesn’t have shootouts in the postseason. Let the teams finish out each game. With that said, the extra-inning rule makes teams think about different strategies in extras and keeps games flowing. I may not love starting extras with a runner on second, but I do think that the extra-inning rule works in the regular season. (Side note: NEVER PLAY FOR ONE RUN!)

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Derek McAdam – I was content with the decision last season to put a runner on second base to begin extra innings, but this season is different. The rule was to benefit teams from wearing their bullpens out in a season that had many unknowns. Now, there is a full season with more knowledge about COVID-19. For this season and beyond, I am not a fan of this rule and think it should go back to its original state.

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Paul Semendinger – I hate the rule. It’s a gimmick that is unnecessary. These are Major League players. They don’t need imaginary runners and artificial ways to try to score runs.

MLB wanted to make it easier for teams to score runs. Why make it easier? It’s simple, to get the game over quicker. I guess the people who run Major League Baseball don’t like baseball because they want to see less of it. That’s the message the league sends to the fans. “Our game is too long and boring. Even we want to get it over quicker.” This message begs the obvious question – “If you can’t wait to get the game over, why even bother with the first nine innings?”

At one of the most exciting times of the game, they completely change the rules, and they inventing something that actually makes the game less exciting. The runs scored are artificial. They feel cheap. Because they are.

The people who run baseball seem to have no understanding of the game, its history, or why fans love it.

The rule is trite. It’s contrived. It completely changes the game – and not for the better. This rule would have been laughed out of youth baseball even a year ago.

There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Extra innings wasn’t broken. At all.

The people entrusted to care for the sport are ruining it, one bad decision after another. This is one of the worst. If they want a different game, they should try to do like the XFL and create a new league with their own rules. Then, there, they can do whatever they like.

In short, this is a horrible rule. It changes the game in a significant way – and for the worse.

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Chris O’Connor – I was fine with the extra inning rule in 2020 because it was just a weird, fan-less season that left the door open for experimentation with the game. However, as the vaccine rollout allows for a more normal 2021, I am firmly against it. I do understand it; MLB wants shortened games and this increases the drama right off the bat in extra innings. While I would prefer no rule like this at all, I would be okay with this rule taking place in, say, the 12th inning when games are really starting to drag on. Starting it right when extra-innings begin feels like a cheap way to win or lose a ballgame after 3+ hours of intense baseball.

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Ethan Semendinger – The extra innings rule is the epitome of Major League Baseball not understanding the problems with baseball and their slow desires to completely change the game. If the end goal was to have baseball games be shorter the MLB would eliminate commercial breaks, or they’d shorten how long a game goes (which they now do for double-headers with back-to-back 7 inning games?), or they’d add tie games to the regular season. However, these moves are seen as too drastic…right now. The problem is that slow changes like this allow for more tampering and ruining of a good thing. (And seeing how the MLB handles everything, more power to Manfred and Co. is not a good thing.)

They’ve turned extra innings into a showcase of seeing which team can bunt a runner to third and get a hit or a sacrifice fly to score the easy run. If the idea was to add strategy, the meta has already been established and has been since the 2017 World Baseball Classic. They preach that it brings more excitement because more runs are being scored. Yet each run feels fake. Each half inning feels exactly the same. It’s not fun, it’s dull. It’s boring. It’s already old.

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Lincoln Mitchell – This rule is at best the right answer to the wrong problem. The pace of play issue is about the three hour and forty-five minute nine inning game, not extra inning games. The bigger problem with this rule is that it changes the balance, vibe and poetry of the game. Starting an inning with a runner on second base is like starting to read a book at chapter five or starting a marathon at mile 13. It undermines the integrity of the game while providing a less interesting product. It makes sense at for Little League where field time is scare and children may have a more limited attention span and other things to do, but nobody is using Yankee Stadium other than the Yankees and Aaron Judge doesn’t have schoolwork to do.

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Tamar Chalker – I’ll defer to the comments I made in my article earlier this week. I hate it.

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Ed Botti – I hate it. An entire game is played under one set of rules, and then at the most critical point of the game (extra innings) they change the rules. Putting a runner on 2nd base is something you may see in tee-ball. But I do not like it in MLB. You have to earn your way on base. Gifting a team a leadoff double is an absolute joke.

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Andy Singer – We live in divisive times, but if there is one thing about which we can get supermajority support, I think it’s MLB’s extra innings rule. In fact, I’d be more than okay with a Constitutional Amendment outlawing the current rule, that’s how much I dislike it.

Major League Baseball does have some pace issues, but the root cause of the majority of those issues would lead to MLB looking a gift horse in the mouth. Since they refuse to re-work the way in which advertisements are displayed throughout the game, we get strange rules like starting a runner on second base each half inning in extra innings. Rather than increase strategy, the rule actively ensures that strategy is homogenized from team to team. Any way you slice it, starting an inning with a runner on 2nd is just bad baseball.

I have one caveat to this opinion, however. The only logical argument I’ve heard regarding positives that come from the extra innings rule came from the mouth of former Yankee Manager, Joe Girardi. To paraphrase Girardi, he noted that capping extra innings games helps teams put a better product on the field in subsequent games due to better rest, more streamlined travel, etc. Based on this argument, I would be willing to entertain a hybrid rule: standard extra innings through the 11th inning, prior to putting a runner on 2nd base for each inning in the 12th or beyond. I still would hate it, but at least the rule’s occurrence would be far rarer.

#ExtraInnings

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