As baseball confronts the imminent challenge of increasing in-game action to maintain its younger audience, Major League Baseball explores changing its extra-innings rules as a solution with various additional benefits, reports Yahoo Sports.
MLB plans on testing a rule change in the lowest levels of the minor leagues this season that would automatically place a runner on second base in the 10th and every inning thereafter.
Our experts weighed in on the proposed rule change…
JACK: I think this is junk, what do you all think?
ROB: I don’t hate the proposed change. I love the game of baseball more than many things in the world, but I would not consider myself a “baseball purist.” A lot of times when it comes to rule changes in baseball - especially in MLB - you get a lot of people coming out of the woodwork talking about preserving the game, and not doing anything to ruin the game. Baseball is awesome and might be poised to overtake football as the most popular sport in America. However, there are definitely things that kill baseball from a ratings perspective. A lot of pundits say that the length of games and the lack of excitement are driving younger viewers from tuning in (and even playing). I disagree with this notion. There are decisions being made and probabilities that change with every pitch - the game literally changes from pitch to pitch. This new rule change will highlight the chess match immediately in the 10th inning. It also creates a little more urgency to win the game if it should happen to be tied in the 8th or 9th inning. I wouldn’t stop here though - I’m a staunch advocate of using a virtual, computerized system to determine balls and strikes. But I guess that’s a different topic for a different day.
MIKE: I like the idea behind the change - to expedite the game and create some excitement in the late innings. In general, baseball could use some additional excitement to break up the monotony of a 162 game season. The more uncomfortable positions athletes are put into, the more likely we are to see them rise to a challenge (see Super Bowl LI). Having said that, I would like to see this change take effect in the 12th inning. I don’t want to completely overhaul end of game strategy such as when to use a closer, set-up man, lefty specialist, etc. That stretch of a close game is already very exciting. This should be implemented in the 12th to accelerate the game and prevent the boring, 6 inning appearance from the guy who was supposed to start the next day.
Side note: I would think this would skew home field advantage (batting last) even more towards the home team. They would see whether or not they had to play for 0, 1, or 2+ runs which would change the strategy of how to use the runner who starts on second base.
JACK: Now I could actually get behind something like that. I don't like implementing the rule if it's just for the sake of speeding up the game. What percentage of games go to extra innings anyway? It can't be that much. If you get an extra innings game, it's free baseball! But like Mike said, if you add this wrinkle in the 12th, it adds a fun layer of "Ohh they're getting close, I wonder if this happens!" That could definitely make those late innings more exciting.
KENNY: Admittedly, I'm not much of a baseball fan until October, but I don't think this is a good rule change at all. I completely agree that games need to be shorter and speed of play needs to pick up, but artificially producing offense is not the way to accomplish it. Like Rob, I would by no means consider myself a “baseball purist”, but this definitely takes away from the integrity of the game. You could score a run and win the game on two pop flies, how does that provide more excitement? Also, you could throw a perfect game and still lose the game...how can this possibly be a rule? On top of that, who would even be placed on second? The last person out, the first man up, lucky fan sitting in Section 203 Row 11 Seat 5? It doesn’t make sense. My suggestion for a rule change to help shorten games is to cap the number of extra innings there can be. I see nothing wrong with there being ties in baseball. They’re already letting more and more teams into the playoffs now with this ridiculous one game wild card playoff. Adding ties in can’t change the playoff landscape too much, and if it does, just throw another one game series in there. If baseball makes this rule change, it’ll be the worst thing for the game since letting A-Rod play again.
TERRELL: I love it, but I say take it a step further, let’s really shake things up. I really love the way NHL sudden death overtime works, why not do something like that here? Load the bases, score some points, let’s see some real action right away, first hit wins!
MOOKIE: I am not a fan of the proposed rule change at all. I am uncertain what the goal of putting a runner in scoring position accomplishes. Would the rule be implemented to decrease the length of time of a baseball game? Hope to make baseball games more exciting for viewers? If either one of those are goals - I have one recommendation that satisfies all needs: Extra Inning Home Run Derby! Whhatt!? I’m sure a great majority can appreciate watching an extra inning laser show of baseballs flying out of the park. I’d propose a best of 5 for both teams and if there is a tie thereafter, sudden death. That way, you expedite the game and have something to look forward to in extra innings, not to mention extra souvenirs for attendees.