There has been a lot going on in major league baseball as Commissioner Rob Manfred looks for ways to “speed up” baseball games. One way to speed up the game was put into place at the beginning of the season…streamlining the intentional walk. Now, instead of pitchers going through the motions of throwing four pitches way outside of the strike zone, managers just get the attention of the home plate umpire and signals that he wants the batter to be intentionally passed. The umpire says, “Take your base” and the batter trots down to first. There is no recourse for the batter…at least, not yet.
Now, there are reports going around that MLB wants to have games end in ties, after a certain amount of extra innings. The reasons for this are: (1) Games don’t go 15, 16, 17 innings or longer and the games don’t last 4, 5, or even 6 hours. I am “old school” and my response for MLB wanting games to end in ties is a paraphrase that Tom Hanks…playing Manager Jimmy Dugan in the classic movie, “ A League of Their Own”…spewed out: “THERE’S NO TYING IN BASEBALL!”
Supposedly, another reason for wanting to end a game after so many innings is that a game that goes 16, 17, or 18 innings would put a tremendous tax on a pitching staff. Case in point: On April 13, the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins played a 16-inning game before the Mets finally won out. In that game, the Mets used eight pitchers and the Marlins used nine pitchers. It did not help that neither starter in that game lasted past the fifth inning. Also, it needs to be noted that two Mets pitchers…Josh Edgin and Jerry Blevins…lasted one-third of an inning and two-thirds of an inning.
The idea of not having enough pitching is a load of rubbish. All 30 MLB teams currently have 12 pitchers on their active rosters. There are 16 teams that are carrying 13 pitchers. And managers believe they don’t have enough pitching? Are you kidding me right now? Perhaps if managers used pitchers to face MORE THAT ONE BATTER, they would not have to worry about not having enough pitchers.
So, how to solve the dilemma of games going too long: One solution could be the 26th player rule currently in place. Right now, if a team has a game rained out, they have the option to bring up a 26th player when that game is made up…usually a spot-starter, who comes up to start one game of the doubleheader and then goes back to the minors. Perhaps, MLB could extend that rule by saying that if teams play a game lasting 12 innings or more, they have five games to bring up an extra pitcher to be available for the next game or so. That way, managers could rest some of their bullpen.
Secondly, MLB could look into the “international tie-breaker” rules where a runner is “placed” on base after a certain amount of innings are complete. This is what I do with my Strat-O-Matic table-top baseball game. I play one extra inning…the tenth inning, like any other normal inning. If the game then goes to the 11th inning, each team is allowed to place a runner on second base to start. The runner would be the batter who made the last out of the previous inning.
If neither team scores in the 11th inning, then two runners are placed at first and second base. If the game goes to the 13th inning, I place runners at second and third. Using this plan last season, none of my games lasted past the 12th inning.
The international tie-breaker would force managers to use different strategies…the hitting team would have to decide whether to try and sacrifice the runner to third; the fielding team would have to decide whether to intentionally walk the next hitter to get a chance at a DP.
Whatever strategy works the best, MLB CANNOT have ties in baseball! Many old-time managers and players would roll over in their graves!