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Major League Baseball Should Modify the ‘Extra Inning Rule’ Experiment

This rule, in its current form, should never, ever make its way to the big leagues.

By Quinn AllenPublished 7 years ago 4 min read
Sporting News

Baseball is a sport that may seem slow to some. But for those who really understand the beauty of this game, it’s nothing but excitement.

Back in February, Commissioner Rob Manfred and Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre said the MLB would test out a new rule in the lower levels of the minors starting in 2017. Each team will begin extra innings with a man on second base in order to try and end games at a faster rate, instead of teams playing 14 or 15 innings some games. At this point it will just be an experiment at the minor league level, and the Commissioner has voiced that baseball is a long way from implementing a rule like this in the big leagues.

The Commissioner also said they are looking at testing out this rule to attract a younger crowd and bring more excitement to baseball. Several studies have shown baseball’s audience is older, with the average age of its TV viewers being over 50. But if you really understand and know baseball, this small rule change isn’t going to just magically make the game more exciting.

Examples from the WBC

Chicago Tribune

As you may have seen in the World Baseball Classic, there is a variation of the MLB rule where each team starts the 11th inning with a man on first and second.

First, I just want to say that this exact rule in the WBC was absolutely outrageous.

Colombia was in a flat out battle with the Dominican Republic. Tie game, in extras, until the 11th. Based on WBC rules the Dominicans began the 11th with runners on first and second, and they broke the game completely open because of it. It went from a tied ball game to the Dominicans winning 10 to 3. They clearly had more quality arms in their bullpen than Colombia, but this rule was not fair because it didn’t even give the Colombians a chance to really fight for a win. It quickly went from a really entertaining game to a blowout. Even DR third basemen Manny Machado said, “I’ve got mixed feelings about it. I mean, it’s changed the game of baseball a little bit. It makes it a little easier for both sides. It’s equal, but I still have mixed feelings.’’

The variation that’s been present in the WBC is also a huge advantage to the away team because they have the first chance to score. Colombia used their top relievers in the ninth and tenth to keep team DR from scoring, then because of the rule in the 11th they really had no chance.

The same thing happened between the Netherlands and Japan. Here comes the 11th, and guess what — Japan is the away team and gets the first at bat. They score two runs and then go to their closer in the bottom half of the inning to shut out the Dutch for an 8-6 victory.

Disadvantages of the MLB Rule

Pegitboard News

Here’s my issue with the MLB rule: this is how baseball has always been. Play extra innings the old-fashioned way and see which team comes out on top. But when you say as soon as the ninth inning ends each team is going to start the extras with a guy in scoring position with no outs, it doesn’t sound right. These are professional baseball players. Even at the rookie ball level, you better be able to drive a guy in with no outs and a runner on second — regardless of the inning. It should not be hard for any pro ball player to execute with a runner in scoring position.

I honestly don’t see this rule working. Extra innings are supposed to be an exciting time of a ball game, and this experiment, if implemented, will take that excitement away.

I know the MLB is just testing it out at this point, but if they could modify several aspects of the rule it could possibly work.

My Take

This is what Major League baseball should do: you can let the teams play the 10th and 11th without any limitations. If a team doesn’t score, start with a runner on second in the 12th inning.

I understand that with a major league season teams have to play practically every day, so it can be quite tiring to play 16 innings one night then play a nooner the next day. But if you let the teams at least play a couple innings of rule free baseball and if no one is able to execute a run, then you could bring the rule in. This way, it could still speed up the time of games.

The rule the MLB has in place right now to test out in the minors makes zero sense. They’re not even giving teams a chance to play a few innings of extras. Right away, you’re sticking a guy in scoring position in the tenth. That takes away from the excitement of the game millions of fans know and love. For every MLB fan’s sake, let’s hope this rule in its current form proves to be nothing but a failed experiment. Otherwise, the traditional game of baseball will look much different in the future.


About the Creator

Quinn Allen

Sports Journalist

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