Rob Manfred’s main concern has been to expedite games in order to keep them interesting and entertaining. A new extra innings rule being tested in the World Baseball Classic misses the mark.
We have all read about the pitch clock and now the intentional walk rule. Joe Torre has approved for a change to take place in the minor leagues, as a testing ground. In an article written by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan outlining the proposed change, Torre states:
"“It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”"
The proposed change would be similar to what we have seen in the World Baseball Classic. The main exception would be placing a runner on second instead of first and second as we have seen. In the case of the Dominican Republic versus Columbia on March 12, Columbia was beaten under the pressure of runners starting in scoring position. Similarly, Japan was able to top the Netherlands under the same circumstances. This first look at the new rule left an impression on me, and I must say, I was disappointed.
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Is the change worth it?
This change is being put in place with an emphasis on shortening the games. Shortening for the health of all involved and to save innings on the arms of the pitchers. Firstly, I will never argue when health is brought into question. While athletes are entertainers, they are people first and health is vital. Extra-inning games, however, are not an everyday occurrence. To say we are trying to limit these is about as absurd as quickening the pace of play by removing intentional walks. Good thing they would never do that…
David Sheinin of The Washington Post wrote in an article about the extra innings rule that only about 7.6 percent of MLB games end in extra innings. It hardly seems worth the effort to make this change for such a minuscule figure.
Fan view of the change
Seeing this change on display during the WBC has done one thing. It has helped us see how absurd this rule change is. As a kid, a lot of my family memories involve watching the then Florida Marlins. Just because a game went to extra innings, we did not stop watching. If anything, we watched with more anticipation. I still remember in 2011 watching Bryan Petersen pitch a shutout inning in a losing effort against the Padres. Memories like this spent with my family are the things I want for my daughter. I want to be able to make these memories with her, even if it is sitting for a five-hour extra-inning game.
How can anyone say they don’t want to see a position player pitch? If we did not have moments where position players could pitch, then we may have never seen Ichiro make his pitching debut.
While this was not an extra innings scenario, it goes against what Torre was saying. Who doesn’t love seeing something like this?
While the intention to expedite the ending of games is in the right place, the execution may be a little misguided.