Of the many new rules implemented for the 2020 MLB season, the one we need to take a second look at is the newly-implemented extra-inning rule.
The 2020 MLB season is bringing us a bevy of alterations to the sport of baseball that we’ve never seen before, the most controversial of which being the newly-implemented extra-inning rule.
Unlike some other controversial additions to the game such as the expanded playoff model, there is a sense that the new extra-inning rules could be here to stay for the foreseeable future, and with such a rule, baseball purists are faced with a difficult dilemma.
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In case you’re not aware, the way the extra-inning rule works for this season is that once a game hits the 10th inning, a runner is automatically placed on second base with no outs from the top of the 10th inning on.
The premise of this type of rule is to shorten games and help facilitate them ending quicker, so every half-inning in free baseball starts with the team at-bat having a man in scoring position and three chances to get him in.
I’m sure the nerds out there will attest to the probability of scoring in such a situation will skyrocket with run expectancy and all that jazz.
But the biggest concern is that a rule of this caliber is somewhat compromising the integrity of the game, being that baseball is notoriously a sport that does not have a clock. Most other sports out there possess some sort of time limit or time frame, but with baseball, the game is designed to be a war of attrition that develops naturally.
My initial reaction about the extra-inning rule for the 2020 MLB season.
I’ll admit it, when I first heard about this extra-inning rule, I had to scratch my head. The immediate reaction on the matter at hand is that this kind of alteration to the game makes it feel like some kind of Wiffle Ball backyard tournament or something we might see on a video game.
However, the more I’ve come to learn about how much is being preserved by trying to cut down extra-inning games, the more I have come to terms with liking this particular rule for the game of baseball moving forward.
We always hear about how the game is more of an old people’s sport and that the younger generation is simply disinterested in baseball since it takes too long. I happen to not buy that. If that was the case, there wouldn’t still be millions of kids in this country and others continuing to come up playing the game.
Baseball is one of the most popular sports out there and always will be as far as I’m concerned.
When basketball becomes over-politicized and football slowly becomes flag football because of parents keeping their kids out of harm’s way in fear of concussions and things like that, baseball is still going to be here.
Aaron Judge had football scholarships coming up but chose baseball. Amir Garrett of the Cincinnati Reds was a St. John’s basketball standout with the NBA at his grasps and chose baseball. Tom Brady and John Elway were upon a time elite baseball prospects. The reigning Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes was a spectacular shortstop with MLB prospects. Russell Wilson was in Rangers camp a few years ago. Even the reigning Rookie of the Year and possible future MVP in the NFL Kyler Murray, when he’s done with football, might still lace ’em up and become an All-Star center fielder.
The list goes on of big-named athletes in other sports having also been fully capable of playing professional baseball. And as time goes on and other sports potentially lose their steam, baseball will be there and it will be chosen more frequently by guys like Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, etc.
The game, to me, is not low on youth appeal. Extra inning baseball is actually more exciting than the standard nine innings because it’s a form of sudden death, especially at the bottom of every inning. So, I wouldn’t use the argument that this new rule will shorten games and appeal to younger generations because it won’t drag the game on longer.
The best thing about the extra-inning rule: it saves players from overwork and injuries.
What do we always see with extra-inning games? Sometimes they wind up going 17-18 innings (basically a second game) and both teams have burned through their bullpens and benches and still have to come back the next day or night and prepare for another joust.
In such cases, we see rosters have to be turned over to some extent with shipments of players to and from and active roster just to have bodies available for the following day’s game.
While this kind of situation usually sparks up-and-coming players to get their chance at the big level with the shortages of arms and position players, it’s really compromising the game in some way because it’s simulating what a team would have to do if their roster has been gutted by injuries, without really having such problems.
If we want the game to stay strong, burning out teams by having them play 17-18-inning games in the beginning of May (for example) is not conducive to the goal at hand.
The playoffs may be a different story (I’m not really sure how I feel about this rule being implemented in October yet), but over the grind of a 162-game season, I don’t necessarily hate the idea of trying to shorten these games for the sake of the players.
And from a “fan” standpoint, such a rule that we see in the 2020 MLB season is somewhat equivalent to an overtime/sudden death rule in other sports.
College football stands out because they compromise the hell out of their game by operating with an overtime that starts both teams from their opponent’s territory and goes until one team fails to score appropriately. Nobody really complains about that, and I would argue (although not a very controversial stance) that regular-season college football games and football games, in general, carry more weight than regular season baseball games in terms of importance. Wow, what a brave take by me.
Moving forward, I think a rule like the one we’re seeing played out this year could be highly-beneficial to the game of baseball if it sticks around. Nobody wants to see teams cut down by fatigue and injuries. Nobody wants to see guys overworked and potentially hurt themselves.
What this extra-inning rule does is cut down the injury risk to players and, not ensures, but offers the possibility of a quicker resolution to regular-season games.
Yes, we’re less likely to see the younger player come up and fill a role with other guys recovering from the night before.
Yes, we may need to look at the fact that the away team seems to have a big advantage in this extra-inning experiment being that they can play for the big inning ahead of the home team.
There’s a lot of controversy about some of these newly-proposed rules around the game of baseball, but I have to admit this one isn’t so bad. Although it’s not a perfect solution, I like the rule and I think it should hang around beyond the 2020 MLB season, so we can see what becomes of it.