By In Stuff

Extra Innings

When it comes to baseball, yes, I tend to be a traditionalist in that my first reaction to every new idea is, “Uh … how about no?” I can’t help that. The timelessness of the game appeals to me. I’m drawn to this quaint (and, admittedly, ridiculous) notion that while everything in the world changes, baseball stays the same. Ninety feet. Sixty feet six inches. Bartolo Colon. I like stuff staying the same.

A couple of years ago when people around baseball first talked about adding a pitcher’s clock to the game, I basically went into convulsions and wrote all about how baseball’s very essence is NOT having a clock. I mean: A clock? At a baseball game? Sacrilegious!

Thing is, then I watched a minor-league game with a pitcher’s clock. And I realized: You know what? This is better. The clock was a minor distraction as a fan for about half an inning and then I forgot all about it except to notice that everything was moving just a tick faster, there was just a tiny bit more urgency, and that was a good thing. In one game, I became pro clock … and I admonished myself for once again falling into that traditionalist trap.

On Wednesday, it came out that the low minor leagues will be experimenting with an extra-inning idea — they will place a runner at second base to start the inning in order to spark more scoring and, presumably, end games more quickly. The concept has been used internationally for quite a while, and it will actually be in place for the World Baseball Classic.

Of course, my first reaction to this was my perpetual first reaction: Um, NOOOOOO!

But then I stopped and thought about something.

Can you think of the last time you went to a regular season evening baseball game that went into extra innings? Something happens pretty much every time: People start flooding for the exits. It doesn’t matter the city you’re in. I’ve seen it in Arizona and I’ve seen it in St. Louis. I’ve seen it in New York and I’ve seen it in San Francisco. I mean, it’s a massive swarm for the parking lot. I used to laugh about this (largely because I was being paid to stay until the end of games) and say sarcastically, “I paid for nine innings, dammit, and I’m not staying for one pitch more!”

But the older I’ve gotten the more I have come to realize: This is a problem. People do not want to stay for extra-inning games. Oh, sure, there are plenty of diehards who will stay to the very end, but that’s just not how most people seem to feel. Look at the stadium at the end of the ninth inning. Then look at it at the end of the 10th.

And, if you watch closely, you will notice that at the end of every extra inning, a huge swath of the crowd disappears. And there’s something else: Best I can tell fans who leave baseball games during extra innings don’t leave happily. I’ve talked to people who left games after the 10th or 11th inning of a 14-inning game, and mostly they feel cheated. They invested three and a half or four hours into the game on a work night, on a school night, and they didn’t even get to see who won. It’s kind of a ripoff.

Sure, you can say: “Well, stay then. It’s free baseball!”

But people leave anyway. It’s the only game, I think, that has this sort of attitude about extra time. I’m sure some people leave basketball games or hockey games or football games at the end of regulation, but not many, and not willingly. Anyway, all the other games put finite time limits on their overtimes. In baseball, as everyone knows, the game can go on forever.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the purity of extra innings. I would never want them to change it for postseason baseball where each game takes on much more meaning. But in a July game in Texas, a hot muggy night, both teams basically out of pitchers, yeah, I’m not sure a fun little gimmick would be a bad thing. I think it’s very possible that putting a runner on second base to start the 10th inning WOULD encourage more people to stay. It’s kind of a fun thing. And it’s totally different.

True, a change like this would mean losing some things. We would miss out on teams having to use regular players as pitchers — that’s always fun. We would miss out on those hilarious 18-inning games that go on to 2 in the morning with like 674 people left in the stands — that’s fun too. And we would miss out on the continuity; baseball has always had extra innings.

Then again, the “it’s always been this way” argument isn’t always a great one.

All in all, it’s a reasonable question to ask if the majority of baseball fans WANT full-fledged extra innings. Sure, I love the custom of extra innings, love the history of it, and because I love baseball irrationally I am for extra innings. Even with that in mind, though, there’s a longstanding press box tradition that anyone in the box who mentions “extra innings” during the game will get viciously booed and might have stuff thrown at him or her. See: Nobody in the press box wants extra innings either.

All of which is to say: I don’t know if this second-base thing is the way to go. But I think it’s worth considering. In the wise words of Joe Torre: Let’s see what it looks like.

 

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77 Responses to Extra Innings

  1. Ajnrules says:

    I think this is definitely the dumbest idea since the proposal to allow for an intentional walk without throwing pitches. I have the same issue with both things. Its basically allowing for things to happen without happening. Batters are walking without pitches thrown. People are getting to second without a hit or a walk or other methods people use to get to second. It seems like a slippery slope to me. And neither of these get to the heart of the question as to why 9 inning games last up to four to five hours, which is the real problem.

    • Shack says:

      If we are putting runners on second base, let’s start with the intentional walk going to second instead of first.

      • Dirtbag says:

        So you’re a big fan of the unintentional intentional walk?

      • SDG says:

        That will just increase HBP. I’m hoping as the old guard dies and the new people completely take over, no one will walk intentionally any more.

        But really, is the occasional IBB that much of a problem? How often does it happen and it takes less time than batters going deep into the count, which happens more and more.

    • invitro says:

      “9 inning games last up to four to five hours, which is the real problem.” — Amen.

    • Matt says:

      4-5 hours for 9 inning games? Huh? The average game in 2014 was 3 hours and 8 minutes. In 2015 it was 2 hours and 56 minutes. I don’t know where this myth that baseball games are so long came from but it’s not true. They are shorter than NFL games.

      • Daniel S says:

        I don’t think football is the right comparison, because it’s played once a week and almost always on the weekend. So there’s more tolerance for longer games. The right comparison is to basketball and hockey, which play with similar frequency on weeknights. And those games are MUCH faster than baseball–typically 2.5 hours or less–and are trending towards faster (hockey in particular has been moving for years towards higher scoring, faster games). Asking people to stick around for 3+ hour games 5-6 nights a week is just unrealistic.

        • Matt says:

          That’s fine and everything but it’s still not the 4-5 hours that was originally mentioned.

          And it’s completely fair to bring up the NFL. The NFL prides itself on having quick action and their fans are hellbent when comparing it to MLB and saying the NFL is better.

          Look, none of this crap matters. Want to make game shorter? Get rid of commercials. It’s that simple. But MLB never would do that.

          • Mark Garbowski says:

            The average game length in baseball is close to meaningless. You need to look at the dispersion. Non-OT basketball and hockey games are not only shorter but their length varies by very little. Probably 95% fit within a 15-20 minute range.
            You commit to a baseball game on the other hand and the game might easily last 2:20 or 4:35. When a game has gone on 3:15 and you’re in the 7th inning, it means exactly zero that the average is 2:56.

      • ajnrules says:

        Okay so I’ll admit I employed a bit of hyperbole. Would it have been better if I said 3.5 – 4.5 hour 9-inning games? My point still stands that the pace of play issues won’t be solved by these inane changes that are present in every game.

      • Largebill says:

        That myth came from baseball writers. When you get paid to attend games and write about them it stops being fun.

    • SDG says:

      The league can’t get rid of commercials. They just can’t. It’s not going to happen. Personally, while I’m in favour of pitch clocks putting a man on seems a bit extreme. Most of the drama is in the AB, not on the basepaths. I’d try to speed things up by putting limits on how long a batter can stay in the box adjusting things and, of course, pitch clocks. Limit mound conferences. Stuff like that.

      If you think about it, putting some kind of clock on the game makes it more traditional, not less. The original games had a clock – sundown. And teams adjusted their strategy accordingly. And baseball was more popular than ever.

  2. Shack says:

    I’m not saying it is a good idea, but what would be the impact if beer sales started again in the top of the 10th? Do other professional sports stop alcohol sales before the end of games?

    • Daniel S says:

      Yes, because no one wants the liability that comes from selling alcohol to a drunk person before he gets behind the wheel.

  3. Chris says:

    Baseball games are long, especially on weeknights in mid summer. Beer sales end in the 7th. Tickets here in cinci can easily be had for < 15 bucks each. After 9 innings with kids, I've more than gotten my moneys worth. It's time to leave and listen to Marty finish the call.

  4. Guilherme says:

    Hated this idea. I propose an equally hateable one:

    I dont have patience for baseball videogames. Be it on consoles, computers or mobile, I cant sit for 100+ pitches to play a single game. Imagine for a whole season! (Not including pitching, I always leave it to the computer).

    So, what I do is swing at every first pitch. If I miss it, well, here comes another. If Im feeling frisky, I’ll let the first pitch go by, and then swing on the second if the first was a strike, and maybe watch the second one.

    Anyway, my OBP is always pretty much my batting average.

    Now, the idiotic idea: one pitch at-bats.

    Pitcher throws a strike? It’s a strikeout. Throws a ball? Go to first. Now you tell me that wouldnt speed things up.

    Maybe you have to change things to make it work. Make it so the inning ends at 5 outs instead of 3, or have all the 9 guys come to the plate and see how manybruns they score (if there’s a runner on base after the 9th batter, he starts the next inning in that spot).

    Or you just have 2 strikes for a K and 3 balls for a BB.

    I always thought about it, and I know this is the place to be told how stupid that is. Any thoughts on it?

    • Guilherme says:

      (this is obviously for extra innings)

    • invitro says:

      “Or you just have 2 strikes for a K and 3 balls for a BB.” — I’m in favor of this as a general rule change :). And changing to 7 innings, and 8 men per side, and pitcher clocks, and batter clocks, and restricted pitching changes, and the ability for a batter to turn down a walk (and take second base if he gets walked again), and a law that requires Topps to make only one set of baseball cards, costing 50 cents for a pack of 15.

      • Guilherme says:

        I told younit was dumb. 🙂
        But there is a saber side to all of this. If all at-bats were decided in one pitch (like a 2-3 count to start the AB), how much would the game change?
        Would there me more or less runs scored?
        Imagine the whole batting order being over in 13 pitches d on extra innings, tell me that wouldnt be intense?
        (I mean, when I play OOTP or Mogul I can only see the last pitch of an AB, and it is funs as hell.
        (Sorry to waste your time, maybe Im not explaining myself too well)

        • Pat says:

          Baseball Between the Numbers actually did this, if memory serves. They compared AVG/OBP/SLG across the league across all counts. I believe the 3-2 count had triple-slash that was closest to league-average (2-strike counts were obviously lower for all three, and 3-ball counts were primarily higher only for OBP). So you wouldn’t have much change in offense.
          Pitching would be strategically much different. You could leave in your best relief pitcher for three extra innings, easily.

        • invitro says:

          “I told younit was dumb.” — Just in case I’m misunderstood, I’m serious about my proposed changes. But what I really want is a new league that uses those rules, rather than changing MLB. I call it BALL, which stands for “Baseball’s Alternative League.” Let’s have a BALL this summer!

    • Bpdelia says:

      Yeah I basically love this idea and insist it go into effect immediately.
      And as a dedicated video game player of 40 years I’m with you on baseball video games too.

      Back when I played them I’d try to walk at least once per season but even that was an exercise in extreme discipline.

      • Patrick says:

        I once got 40 games into a season of Frank Thomas baseball on the SNES. Took me an afternoon to play each game, so I could only do 2-3 a week max. Never drew a single walk

  5. Ron J Baugh says:

    I get what you are saying, and would be totally fine with tied games. A tie is a result and it really is mostly in American sports that we find this aversion to it. Maybe after 11 or 12 innings a regular season game becomes a tie.

    In a baseball game everything is accounted for, some fairly and some not so fairly. While I dislike the way traditional numbers are used, this would mess with them. Is this run that scores from second earned? In Indy leagues it is not, but how do you account for it? How does this change ERA, or RA9? How is this accounted for with pitchers? In Indy leagues the runner is given a run if they score, is this fair? We talk about the sacredness of numbers and folks screamed about PEDs, but here they are altering the game in a way that skews the numbers, by the structure of the inning.

    A pitch clock is different. There always was a rule that required pitchers to throw the ball quickly, the umpire was just supposed to keep track of it in his/her head. Adding a clock sped up the players but didn’t change the nature of the game. Putting a guy on second changes that. It just places a guy (if the rule is similar to ones in place, the guy in order before scheduled lead off batter) unearned and unaccounted for. Catcher get credit for a putout for catching a third strike, we account for everything in baseball because it happens do to the result of an action. Starting a guy at second disrupts that. A pitch count clock doesn’t.

    Finally, the potential strategies for this are boring. And maybe someone who follows college or Indy closely will say if these potential outcomes are what happens. Bunts, I would guess that we will see a ton of bunts to start off the innings. Bunt, Sac fly isn’t my idea of excitement, at least when that happens now a batter has gotten on with a hit/walk or some kind of action. Second the intentional walk, I can’t see how Mike Trout gets pitched to if he is scheduled to lead off with a runner at second. So in that situation if the player is a guy who would not bunt, he is probably going to get walked, or since the rule gets changed just sent to first.

    Finally, will this end games earlier? Both teams get to start with a runner on second. So it is possible the odds just mean they will score more extra inning runs. Is it going to reduce games in any meaningful manner?

    I guess they will just find out. But this trend of bastardizing the way a game is played to determine a winner is getting out of hand, and baseball was at least great in that it didn’t do that.

    Baseball has had a tradition of allowing ties due to darkness and weather, the only change will be that they don’t try to replay them. If people are leaving anyway a tied result is still a result, and in some cases an acceptable one, and maybe it will help kill the traditional stat that really does need killing, the pitching decision.

    • Mort says:

      I agree entirely that there is nothing inherently wrong with a game that ends in a tie. One advantage is that a few ties per season would lessen the messy possibility of a three or four team dead heat in the standings at the end of the season, which would totally disrupt the playoff schedule if it happened. I envision playing perhaps one to three extra innings (under normal rules), which would be enough to decide most games, leaving just a few in the books as ties.

      I also agree with Joe about pitch clocks. Having seen them in action in the minors, I forgot all about the pitch clock before the second inning began. It’s a complete nonproblem. The game didn’t feel rushed at all. One should remember that baseball was played at this faster rhythm for a century before the advent of batting gloves, body armor, and Velcro in the 1970s gave the players entirely too many things to play with between pitches. They learned to play slowly then: they can re-learn to play faster now.

      I remember that when game 7 of the 1960 World Series was found and re-shown recently, people were amazed and gratified at how quickly they played. It’s really true that baseball was more fun to watch then and probably to play as well, and pace was a major reason for that.

    • SDG says:

      I don’t have a moral issue with tie games, although this is the one change that will nevereverever EVER happen. There’s a certain group of people that sees ties as un-America, as an example how America is becoming a nation full of sissies and weak women, blah blah blah whatever happened to masculinity, stupid millennials ruin everything etc. You will unleash something deep and primal.

      The real question is, how to tie games (that you don’t make up) change strategy? I think the strategy changes would be extensive. Playing for one run instead of two would probably lead to small-ball skills being useful. It would definitely change how you used pitchers. You would preserve them, which would tip the balance back to pitching a bit.

  6. Robert Rittner says:

    I am not a traditionalist, but I don’t like the idea of changing the game because it is tied. It is my criticism of soccer and hockey where for the entire game they play one game and then go to a shootout to decide who wins. Why not just have a home run derby in the 10th inning?

    I understand not liking extra innings, but if the idea is to pick up the pace of play-again and again something quite different from the length of games-it is attacking a problem at the wrong place. Extra innings may happen often, but are hardly the fundamental problem of long games or of slow pace of play.

    There are rules in the book intended to avoid slow play, which is the real issue, not length itself. Umpires have it entirely in their discretion to allow batters out of the box, and they may call a strike if they tell the pitcher to throw and the batter does not take his place in the box when told to. There are also rules about time between pitches with no runners on base.

    Just inform all umpires and all teams at the start of the season that the rules are now being enforced and see what happens to pace of play. If more is needed, then consider what impedes fast play and deal with it. Is it trips to the mound or excessive warmups or too many pitching changes or throwing to bases with runners on too often without really trying a pickoff or lengthy delays waiting for replays? Well, then deal with that. Extra innings is a distraction from the issue.

    • Guilherme says:

      I get what you’re saying, but in hockey they only do shootouts in the regular season (and most fans want to discourage them or just go back to tie games).
      And in soccer, PKs happens only if the score is tied after 120 minutes of play. That’s a lot, especially considering we’re talking about guys running for two hours on a 100-meter pitch (and only three subs on each side).

      • When talking about hoockey, don’t forget the idiocy that is the ‘loser point’.

      • Patrick says:

        Hockey’s totally different-

        For one, the lower scoring means more games go into OT. In 2002-2003, the Panthers had 26 games go into overtime. No baseball team has anywhere near that many extra inning games.

        Second, as the playoffs that year proved, NHL overtimes can go on forever. Four went into double OT. Four went into triple. One went into quintuple. Yes, regular season strategy would be different, but still. With so many games going into overtime, and the potential for overtime to drag on, you’re left with players playing while a lot more fatigued (which not only brings poor play, but injury risk), you really have two options. They tried ties, people hated them, so they went to the shootout

        • nightfly says:

          As a hockey player and fan, I need to offer a small clarification – we don’t necessarily hate ties. A tie can be a just result. The issue is that teams were playing risk-averse hockey for the final ten minutes of games in order to preserve the tie, rather than go for it. That’s the rationale behind making OT and SO “risk free” – you can go all-out for the win without jeopardizing that standings point.

          Of course, this results in a game where, in effect, one team wins and the other team ties… and nobody has lost. And the added gimmickry of the shootout makes the whole thing seem even more pointless, especially when the playoffs start. In the regular season, four OT losses basically equal two wins in the standings. In the playoffs, four OT losses equal golf, as Lord Stanley intended.

          There were other solutions available, but as is typical with the NHL, they went with the worst one, and now ain’t nobody happy.

    • SDG says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Stop all the time-bleeding messing around and actually play. It’s not like this is new. The rule about one manager-led trip to the mound per inning happened because a manager in the old days was deliberately delaying the game for strategic reasons.

      The game could use some rules about cooling it with the mound visits in general.

  7. birtelcom says:

    I am attracted by the elegant symettry of baseball’s basic playing rules, and something like plopping down a runner out of nowhere to speed along extra innings seems to me disturbingly awkward, akin to plopping a Jeff Koons sculpture in the middle of a Chinese scholar’s garden. To improve game pace, my current favorite pet proposal would instead be to ban pitchers from appearing in two games in a row, unless one of the games goes extra innings. My theory is that such a rule might generally require both starters and relievers to average more innings in a game, forcing them to pitch more to contact, in lieu of ever-greater efforts to overpower. The hope would be to create more balls in play, and a crisper, livelier pace in a game which to my eye has become just a bit top-heavy on the K/BB/HR side of things.

    • invitro says:

      “plopping a Jeff Koons sculpture in the middle of a Chinese scholar’s garden” — Hee hee.

    • SDG says:

      I agree that while, strategically, TTO baseball make sense, it’s not as fun to watch as ball in play baseball. I think it’s MLB’s job to make the rules that increase the likelihood of the ball being in play (ie/ make TTO baseball difficult). I was thinking stuff like changing the strike zone or the mound height but your theory is interesting.

      It seems to me all the smart strategies (tons of pitching changes, grinding out ABs, taking walks) make the game longer. MLB needs to either force the game to be shorter or subtly nudge it in that direction.

      • invitro says:

        What is “TTO baseball”? Does it have anything to do with Terrell Owens?

        • SDG says:

          Three true outcomes. It refers to walks, strikeouts and HRs (minus inside-the-park HRs which barely ever happen). Basically everything that can happen that doesn’t involve defense, just pitcher and batter (and catcher, depending on your thoughts on pitch-calling).

  8. NRW says:

    Who would be the runner? The first man up that inning? The last out of the previous inning? Bringing back Charley O’s Designated Runner?

    • Stephen says:

      I’m pretty sure that in softball it’s the last batter of the previous inning. Which doesn’t mean that’s how they’d it in MLB, but it’s a precedent of sorts.

  9. jtrichey says:

    It’s not a bad idea, BUT, it will be a battle of sacrifice bunts in that situation. Not my favorite thing.

  10. moviegoer74 says:

    I appreciate trying to keep an open mind, but this is a terrible idea. Anything that really changes that actual play of the game is apt to be a bad idea. The pitch clock is a good idea because it doesn’t change the actual play. Similarly, I’m for only allowing relievers who enter mid-inning to throw 1 warm-up pitch from the mound. There’s no good reason they can’t get completely ready in the bullpen (the one pitch from the mound would just be to let them get the feel of the mound a bit).

  11. Pierre Dufresne says:

    Hi Joe, I’ve loved reading you for many years now, because you are a baseball purist. But really? give up extra innings by playing a wildcard just because some people have better things to do? it’s even worse than what the NHL has done to overtime hockey and NCAA has done to football. No game outcome should be determined by a scrimmage, or a handicap. That just robs the fans. just because some fans have to leave to be home for the barbeque they promised to cook, the wife they had to pick up at the airport, the ice rain that was falling at Jarry Park that day, the last subway is about to pass, or they need to get up in a few hours to get to work, or just fallen asleep in front of the tv in their favourite chair (all that I have experienced) doesn’t mean they want to seek instant gratification to change the game. Joe, in these otherwise very troubled times we are struggling to preserve the Field of Dreams. Going to a game is hours of hope and joy and escape from the reality of the world because baseball represents the good, the youth, the freedom and Elysian we all look for. Don’t overthink it and don’t change it for convenience. Oh, and thanks for all the support that got Rock in the HOF. If I run in to you at Cooperstown next July I would like too say hi.

  12. Tom says:

    Why not just go softball rules instead: each batter starts with a 1-1 count.

  13. mrh says:

    Instead of the man on second idea, how about this: in the 10th inning, all players in the lineup get to bat once. Outs are recorded, but the lineup continues batting until all 9 players have a plate appearance, and then stops, regardless of the number of outs.
    — After both teams have batted in the 10th, the team with the most runs wins.
    — If the game is still tied, the team with the fewest outs in the 10th inning wins.
    — If the game is still tied, the team with the most advanced base runner in the 10th inning wins (Team A had a player on third after the 9th batter, Team B had a player on 2nd, Team A wins).
    — If the game is still tied, the team with the 2nd most advanced runner wins (2nd and 3rd beats 1st and 3rd).
    — If the game is still tied, the team with the 3rd most advanced runner wins (bases loaded beats 2nd and 3rd).
    — If the game is still tied, it goes to another inning, same rules.
    — If the home team at any point took the lead on runs or any tiebreaker, the game would end (for example, visiting team scores no runs, makes 8 outs, and strands a runner at first; home team leads off with a double, home team wins).

    Pitching changes during the inning would not be allowed except in case of injury. Any pitcher removed for injury would have to go on the disabled list (10 day minimum). This would mean most teams would not use a closer or set-up man but a middle reliever – probably increasing the number of runs scored.

    The inning would probably be about the length of two regular innings, but I’d guess very few would go a 2nd modified extra inning.

    My first inclination is that I just wouldn’t count the stats from extra innings in individual stats.

    This format probably takes longer to resolve a game than starting with a man on second. But it feels more like “real” baseball to me – everything is earned, we just keep score a little differently. Although we could just generate different tiebreaking rules for tied 9-inning games: team with more total bases, more hits, fewer strikeouts, fewer pitches thrown, etc.

  14. Chris K says:

    Compromise? If beginning an inning with a runner on second base is too extreme, then why not begin with a runner on first base, instead??

  15. Vidor says:

    My goodness, I am shocked that Joe Posnanski, the most elegant baseball writer around, is praising this awful, horrible, idiotic, doubleplusungood idea.

    What is the problem that this is trying to solve? Posnanski writes,

    “People do not want to stay for extra-inning games.”

    …so what? We have to adopt a cheap stunt gimmick because, um, because lots of people leave after the ninth inning of a baseball game? Why is this a problem? This doesn’t even address pace of play for innings 1-9 at all!

    Why not just go full stupid and have a home run derby?

  16. Tom Geraghty says:

    Just have a home run derby at the end of any game that is tied after 9 innings.

  17. Breadbaker says:

    One difference between baseball extra innings and overtime in any other sport (soccer excepted) is that players who were substituted cannot reenter the game. So in extra innings you are seeing an often diminished product (particularly in the NL where there are all those double-switches), plus with the advent of LOOGYs and other stort-term relievers, you might well be having the worst pitchers for both teams pitching in extra innings.

    What happens if the runner on second means both teams score every inning? And on a bunt and a sacrifice? Yuck to that, too.

  18. KHAZAD says:

    I am not a knee jerk traditionalist. I didn’t like the pitch clock, but it wasn’t because of tradition, it was because in my view the slow pace of the game was (and I still think so after paying attention to it this past year) quite a bit more because of the batters than the pitchers, with the umps contributing almost as much by allowing the batter to call late timeout, sometimes while the pitcher is winding up to deliver. (Old man rant – in my day, the batter requested timeout and got it only if there was a reason. I did not see any umpire last season refuse a time request by a batter, and saw them call time in the middle of a pitcher’s motion several times.) I would be OK with a pitch clock, but when does it start? Does it start when the hitter has finished his ritual of unfastening and refastening his batting gloves and other paraphernalia and then taken another 15 seconds to get himself comfortable in the box, while holding his hand up to the umpire? Does it start over when the umpire grants the batter time so he can do it all again 10 seconds later? If they want to speed up the at bats they are looking in the wrong direction.

    Despite being OK with some new ideas, the extra inning idea made me throw up in my mouth a little. I love extra inning games. I’m one of the guys who stays. Why should baseball care about the fans who leave? They have already made their money anyway – the tickets and the parking has been bought, the food has been eaten and the drinks consumed.

    Last year only 7.6% of games went to extras. About once every 13.1 games. The average number of extra innings for those games was 2.3 innings. Doing this would keep the rare marathons from happening, but it isn’t like it would make every game 10 innings. There would still be ties after both teams went scoreless or scored exactly one run apiece. My analysis says the game would have about 1.45 extra innings per game so you would save an average of 0.85 innings in the 7.6% of games that it happens anyway and you would be completely destroying the integrity of the game to do so.

    Also after you did that, the type of fans that leave after the ninth would STILL get up and go home. It is in their nature.

    • Robert Rittner says:

      Yes, yes, yes! Umpires can get batters in the box and can get them to stay there. They can get pitchers to throw the pitch and not mull over the meaning of life. The solution is right there staring us in the face. Just enforce the rules. Everything else is just a solution looking for a problem, an opportunity for people to show off how clever they are in devising new rules.

    • SDG says:

      I agree with all this. (Except that it’s in baseball’s interest to avoid pissed off fans, even though they’ve already paid, because a disgruntled fan is less likely to come back to the ballpark or follow baseball in general). The problem is games take too long. By the time you’re in extra innings, the game has already gone a long time.

      -Stop letting the batter screw around in the box.
      -Limit warmup pitches. That’s what the bullpen is for.
      -Limit pitchers screwing around
      -Limit mound conferences
      -Notice a theme?

  19. Robert Rittner says:

    I reiterate. Focusing on extra innings is a distraction from the issue of pace of play. It is akin to trying to help a person who has been in a car accident by looking for his lost shoe. If pace of play needs to be addressed, look at the factors that slow down games and work through changing those that least impact the style of play seeing how each incremental change affects pace of play. I would start with what is already in the rule book since that requires no alteration of the game but addresses the issue directly.

    Joel Sherman has argued that the real problem is that too many non-players are allowed on the field to talk. He suggests keeping managers in the dugout for example, limiting their trips to the mound per game, not per inning. The same for coaches, infielders and catchers. Keep them away from the pitcher so there is less walking and talking during the game. Baseball doesn’t need a huddle after every play. Pitchers go over the game plan and every hitter before the game; they should not have to be reminded nor do they need to be coddled when they get into trouble.

    Bill James has suggested six strategies to speed up action. One was to allow a pitcher two throws to first with a runner on. After that, if he throws over and fails to catch the runner, the batter gets a ball. (Or was it the runner gets second; I don’t remember.) That forces the pitcher to make a decision, and might add more stolen bases attempts, which is an exciting play.

    There are plenty of other opportunities for worthwhile changes such as limiting pitching changes, warmup throws and the time allowed to ask for replays as well as the need for lengthy reviews.

    Those kinds of policies would probably speed up the game and make it more exciting, yet would not alter any fundamental element of it. They could be tried, the kinks figured out and then altered or eliminated if they don’t work or create insoluble problems.

  20. Alejo says:

    Ok. A runner in second just because it’s a school night.

    My best hope, writer, is that you have gone transiently mental and will recover after a nice cup of tea. Yes, go on, put the kettle on…

  21. John Autin says:

    I’m pretty traditional about baseball, but I wouldn’t mind a gimmick for extra innings. I’d go farther, though: Start each inning with the bases loaded. More strategic options, especially for the defense, and less chance of each side scoring exactly one run.

  22. Mark H says:

    I support this extra inning proposal. In fact, I have an even more radical idea to make regular season baseball more popular — make them 7 inning games. But keep the postseason 9-inning and normal extra inning rules. I think doing this can save baseball from dying off.

  23. Kuz says:

    I’ve got the solution. If a game is tied after nine innings, you calculate the average WAR of the remaining roster of each team. The team that has the higher WAR average wins the game. You could refine the calculation by weighting the average WAR of the players on the rosters who have not yet entered the game. In a close game, managers would have to consider moves based on the real time WARs of the players that would be available on the cloud. Fans in attendance, watching on electronic devices, and listening on broadcast, satellite, and internet radio could calculate probable winners of possibly tied games as they enter the late innings. Bets on tie games would be paid to the underdog.

  24. Johnny says:

    All the changes to the game are to draw interest from the “average” fan. They all come at the expense of the “die hard” fan. It’s kind of annoying that the people who truly love the game have to constantly watch it changed to meet the desires of those who could take or leave the game, are waiting for football season to return or are only interested when something big is happening. Don’t change extra innings, you’ve already gotten your money from the fans and made enough changes to please those who don’t really care. Let the die hards have their 18th inning and the potential for the never ending game.

  25. Knuckles says:

    I like the idea of just a tie. We’ve all been told for years (us stat heads) that a teams extra inning record and record in one run games is pure luck… so why reward anybody? Also be cool to see if managers use their closer in the 9th to preserve a tie, or need another special pitcher to hold ties.

  26. Squawks McGrew says:

    As a die-hard, I don’t get why we’re intent on changing a great game. Baseball keeps pointing out the slow pace. Why not embrace it like the sport did awhile back? There was a great commercial showing highlights at Wrigley and at the end Mark Grace says “If you played here, would you want to go home early?”

    I love that baseball takes time. I love that I can escape from the fast-paced world and settle in for a few hours. If I want rush, rush, rush, I’ll watch hockey (and I love that sport too — was STH for the Thrashers).

    I, too, stay for every inning of extras. I enjoy it. When I was a kid, I watched the Washington Senators lose to Oakland in 21 innings. My family STILL talks about that game.

    Guess I could has summed up my complaints about fixing baseball with “you kids, get off my lawn!”

  27. Mike says:

    why not give one team a run if it’s tied after 9. that will shorten the games.

  28. MCD says:

    I try not be a knee-jerk reactionary to rule changes, but I really have a hard-time swallowing this one one.

    Exactly what problem are we trying to “fix”? Yes, people often leave after nine innings, but how is this really “hurting” the game in any way? Not financially, people have already paid for their ticket and attended the game. Most teams have already stopped selling beer. Do we think extra innings are a turnoff to the fans? I don’t think people are saying to themselves “I’m going to pass on the game today, it might go into extra innings” or “The last game I attended went into extra innings. Ugh!”. People leave due to their personal schedules, not because they think extra innings “aren’t as good” as innings 1-9. It’s also the uncertainty of how much longer it will be, but that is eliminated with the proposal.

    This looks like a misguided attempt to address the “games are too long” complaint. Yes, if you eliminate a single 6.5 hour marathon, it does reduce the average game duration by nearly 3 minutes. But that is really a statistical phantom. It is only affecting that one extra inning game, it isn’t impacting the fan experience of the other 80 games.

    Secondly, as has already been alluded to, numbers matter in baseball unlike they do in any other sport. Regardless of “how* they plan to treat these automatically placed runners, when they score, it it is going to artificially impact the statistics of the individual pitchers, runners, and hitters involved.

    • MCD says:

      edit above: NOT eliminated with the proposal.

    • invitro says:

      “Yes, if you eliminate a single 6.5 hour marathon, it does reduce the average game duration by nearly 3 minutes.” — I don’t think so. How did you calculate this?

      • invitro says:

        To wit, suppose one 6.5 hr game was removed from one season. The most the average game time of that season could be reduced is 6.5 hr / (# games in the season). The number of games in a season is 30*162/2 = 2430. 6.5 hr / 2430 = 390 min / 2430 = 0.16 min = 9.6 seconds. So 9.6 seconds is the most the average game time would be reduced. (Of course, the actual average game time is closer to 3 hr, so the actual reduction in average game time would be more like 5 seconds. Woo hoo!)

  29. Alter Kacker says:

    How about we just wait and see how it works? Like Joe’s experience with the pitching clock, it might turn out to be terrific.

    The thing about extra innings is — it’s so open ended. You go to a game, you have an expectation of nine innings, and you fit your evening to that expectation. Then you have a tie and — what? One more inning? Three more? Ten more? I think this uncertainty is what sends so many people home after the 9th. It’s 10:30. Do I want to commit for another inning when I don’t know if that will finish it off, or if I’ll just have to run the same calculation again only half an hour later?

    Personally, I’m for the pitching clock. I’m for limitations on in-inning pitching changes and mound conferences. I’m old enough to know the pace of play has not always been so slow. When they showed the kinescope of 1960 Game 7, the Mazeroski game, it was astounding how quickly it moved. Nineteen runs, 24 hits, 7 pitching changes — and it was over in 2 hours and 36 minutes.

    • invitro says:

      “I think this uncertainty is what sends so many people home after the 9th.” — People for whom uncertainty is so horrific might be better served by just going to a dinner & movie instead of a sporting event.

  30. MikeN says:

    Maybe if you sped up the rest of the game, so it’s not 25 minutes per inning, people would stick around.

  31. Jimbo says:

    The only solution to this situation is a stupid one.
    I propose that if a regular season game goes into extra innings then each team must use non pitchers from that point on.

  32. Binyamin says:

    No, no and no.
    And get rid of interleague play, and baseball will he perfect again.

  33. Mark M says:

    The pace of play “problems” are just a smokescreen for the real problem which is too many advertisements. I keep hearing that baseball could never fix this but eventually you hit the point where one more ad is the one too many that finally chases everyone away. Football has already blew past this point in my opinion and while my baseball threshold is probably higher than most, this is the crisis that baseball faces. Playoff games are especially horrendous. The half inning breaks become 3 minutes long and are obnoxiously obvious to me.
    What about all those pitching changes – that’s pace of play, right? Well, again in the playoffs, you get an immediate 3 minute break each time. First, we should shave off the 18 minutes of extra commercials and then maybe we can talk of the 5 or 6 minutes that “pace of play” actually affects.
    As for extra innings – i’d rather take a tie than the stupid idea of having a runner automatically on base. Sure, we’d all get used to it eventually but like the overtime rules in hockey they would still be really dumb.

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