A few of the rule changes introduced during the pandemic shortened 2020 season have continued in 2021. Unfortunately, the universal designated hitter is not one of them. Perhaps even more unfortunately, is that the change to the rules for extra innings is. Now, beginning in the 10th inning, a runner is placed at second base to start every half inning.
The rule was well intended last season, when MLB was doing whatever it could to ensure teams could get through the season. With a condensed schedule light on off days and the prospect of frequent double headers, a long extra inning game could decimate a pitching staff and negatively impact games for a week afterwards. But now, in 2021, it’s taken on the flavor of one of MLB’s misguided pace of play initiatives.
The Twins have been one of the earliest practitioners of the new rule set, already playing three extra inning affairs in their first 9 games. Each of those has ended in 10 innings. Twins pitchers have allowed just 3 singles and a walk in their 3 extra innings, but those “real” baserunners have been enough to push across the three “ghost” runners put on base by the rule. In their offensive half, the Twins offense has executed poorly (1-10, 5 strikeouts), resulting in three frustrating losses.
Needless to say, we here at Twinkie Town are not fans of the rule:
Rob Manfred put eight runners on base yesterday. Four of them scored. What is his ERA?— Twinkie Town (@TwinkieTown) April 2, 2021
We aren’t the only ones:
Fans at Yankee Stadium are chanting: "Play real baseball."— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 8, 2021
It’s so bad that now we’re finding common ground with Yankees fans.
After Opening Day, when the Blue Jays and Yankees played an extra inning game that resulted in a loss for New York, this article ran at Newsweek. In addition, there is an open petition on change.org asking for the rule to be eliminated. You can add your support for that effort here, if you like.
One thing is certain, the implementation of the rule needs to change. An unofficial, straw poll of the Twinkie Town writers suggests a reasonable compromise could be for this rule not to go into effect until the 12th inning. Under that idea, teams would play the 10th and 11th innings under normal baseball rules. If those extra two innings aren’t enough to resolve the outcome of the game, then let’s start the shenanigans to prevent an 18 inning game. That seems reasonable enough. But the 10th inning is entirely too early to apply this rule and it’s negatively impacting the game. It’s a solution in search of a problem. After all, in 2019 97.7% of all games played were resolved by the 11th inning.
With that in mind, our writing staff compiled this list of 30 terrible things that are still better than MLB’s extra inning rules for your enjoyment:
- Accidentally hitting your thumb with a hammer
- Road construction during rush hour
- Nick Punto batting 2nd
- Someone driving 5 mph under the limit in the left lane
- Spring allergies
- Pitching to contact
- Toddlers in the “why?” phase
- Alex Rodriguez buying the Timberwolves
- A gas grill running out of propane in the middle of cooking supper
- When the candy filling isn’t the flavor you were expecting
- Rain delays on Opening Day
- Waking up in the middle of the night to all the blankets having been stolen
- Menstrual cramps
- The movie Cats
- Kirk Cousins’ contract
- Joe Buck, Chris Berman, and Dick Vitale all speaking at once
- Bill Smith’s decisions as Twins’ General Manager (all of them)
- Bud Selig
- Loud chewers
- Root canals
- The 2005 AL Cy Young vote
- Spilling coffee on yourself on the way to work
- Finding out a cookie is oatmeal raisin, not chocolate chip
- People who hate Joe Mauer
- Justin Morneau in a White Sox jersey
- Torii Hunter in an Angels jersey (and Tigers, too)
- When you forget to thaw something out for supper
- Cutting onions
- Vikings kickers in the playoffs
- Losing 18 straight playoff games
What do you think Twinkie Town? Do you like the current extra inning rules? What would be better? And, most importantly, what terrible things are still better than the current rules?
John is a contributor to Twinkie Town with an emphasis on analytics. He is a lifelong Twins fan and former college pitcher. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnFoley_21