Proposing an extra innings rule change

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Updated: May 18, 2017

There has been a lot of talks over the past couple of weeks about possibly changing baseball’s extra innings rules. After an 18-inning game on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN featuring the Yankees and the Cubs this was the talk of baseball. Some people proposed that the game should just be considered a tie after a certain amount of time. Some people said they should go with the World Baseball Classic rule of starting the 12th inning with a runner on second. Some didn’t offer a solution, but demanded that something should be done because that’s the kind of world we live in now. Extra innings baseball games are too long! We have to fix them!

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I don’t really believe this is necessary. It is apart of baseball, it is what makes baseball what it is. Games can be long, games can be short and at-bat could hypothetically never end. It’s all part of the charm of the game. Look at the other sports. In football, people HATE ties. Whenever there is a tie, people get pissed and ask why this is even possible. The length of the game doesn’t matter to people when the opposite result is a tie. I truly believe that. In hockey, they have been trying to fix the tie issue for years with different overtime rules. They know that ties are awful, but they also know that their sport is uniquely designed to last forever on occasion.

In baseball, that’s not really the case. The games last long, but very rarely go as long as that Cubs and Yankees game did. Most extra innings games are locked up by the 12th inning and there is nothing egregious about that length. Twelve innings, fine. Eighteen innings, fine as long as it’s not all the time. If games were going 18 all the time, that would be a huge problem. This isn’t that.

For fun though, let’s change the game. We know that ties are awful so we don’t want that. We know that the WBC rule of starting a runner at second just makes the other team bunt. We don’t want that. What we want is weird baseball. So let’s take a page from hockey and change the rules of the game. Here are two proposals to “fix” extra innings.

After the 12th inning the ball and strike counts are switched. It now takes three balls for a walk and four strikes for a strikeout.

This is a small change, but could potentially be a huge one. Walks would be easier to come by, strikeouts would be harder to come by. All we’re trying to do with these changes is spark the offense and this could do that. I think there would be more walks and thus more baserunners. I think that a hitter could get a called strike three and then come back to hit strike four.

Imagine the away team getting the lead in the top of the inning and then having their closer going for a four pitch strikeout to win the game. That could be really exciting. I am excited by this.

This would be different, but it would still be baseball. Just weird baseball.

After the 12th inning both teams lose the rights to one outfielder and one outfielder.

This one also just promotes hitting. You put the ball in play, there is more holes for it to get to. More hits, more runners, more scoring. That’s the dream.

Of course, this doesn’t do anything about strikeouts which just keep on rising. Games could still go on forever if people strikeout a bunch. Maybe players would be more inclined to swing away with holes all over the field. Maybe we’d see more infield singles and baserunning would become more important deep into the game.

This would be very weird baseball. You might have an extra inning game with 10+ hits in the 12th inning. Who doesn’t want that? You’d have teams trying to win it in the 11th because they know they couldn’t handle what the 12th means. It could be fun.

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