On the second day of the 2018 baseball season, I got to watch the last couple of innings of the New York Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and just enough of the San Francisco Giants’ 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers to see Chris Taylor end Johnny Cueto’s perfect game bid.
That’s probably a lot more baseball than I will find time to watch today, but it’s a lot less than fans who were attending the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves (11 innings), the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-10 win over the Detroit Tigers (13 innings) or the Miami Marlins’ 2-1 win against the Chicago Cubs (17 innings.)
In the not-too-distant future, games like those will probably be unimaginable. Minor League Baseball is already testing a rule change that puts a runner on second base at the start of each extra inning.
Friday’s marathons are sparking more discussion about making a rule change at the Major League level. It’s coming and I hate it.
One of my favorite baseball memories is a game that didn’t want to end between the Miami Marlins and New York Mets. On June 7, 2013, young stars-to-be Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey matched up and left with a 1-1 tie. By inning 13, journeymen Kevin Slowey and Shaun Marcum were pitching for the two clubs, respectively. They’d been scheduled to start a game that had been rained out the night before, and they took the game to the 20th. It was awesome – the only part I would’ve changed was the end result (the Mets lost.) If tinkering with the rules brought the game to an end in 11 or 12 innings, I guarantee you I wouldn’t remember it five years later.
Sports reporters and baseball managers hate extra innings, because it makes it more difficult for them to do their jobs. I think most fans like them – sure, there’s a point where you have to leave the game or turn off the tv. But that could happen anyway – the deciding game of last year’s World Series lasted over five hours and only took nine innings to play. But if you get to stay for a marathon, you get to see something special and I hate to see that get tossed away in some misguided pace-of-play initiative.
So here’s my compromise proposal: save the extra runners for the All-Star Game, and start inning 10 with the bases loaded. Regular season games that remain tied after 12 innings go in the books as a tie. Playoff games are played to their conclusion without any gimmickry.
It still sucks & fundamentally changes the way baseball is played, but it does so in a way that I can live with.
Other odds & ends:
- Ichrio Suzuki was in the lineup for the Seattle Mariners for the first time in seven seasons, which just seems right. It also gives me one more season in which there’s a Major League player older than I am, so thank you, Ichiro.
- Adrian Beltre met a giraffe that the Fort Worth Zoo named after him when he recorded his 3000th hit last year. Because that’s just fun.
- Phil Hecken examines 20 years of Arizona Diamondbacks uniforms to try to identify the team’s signature look for Uni-Watch.