Free baseball has not been kind to the Minnesota Twins this year. They are 0-5 in extra-inning games. The moment they started the 10th inning on opening day I thought to myself, “Oh, they kept this stupid rule. I thought it was just a COVID thing.” Twins lost, and we know how it’s gone from there.
The rule - which starts each half-inning with a runner on second - is getting much criticism from baseball purists. It has from the get-go. I consider myself someone who really doesn’t like altering the game, for the sake of history. I hated the new rule, but now, even though it has the Twins’ number, I’m going to go devil’s advocate here and say it’s just not that bad of an idea.
Let’s take a look at what happened on opening day. Twins blow a lead against the Brewers.
Newcomer Alex Colomé gives up three runs in the ninth. We go into extras. Twins are unable to get a run in. No worries about that runner at second because Astudillo, Arraez and Cave all struck out swinging. Randy Dobnak gives up a single in the bottom. Oswaldo Arcia’s little brother hits into a fielder’s choice, game over. Dobnak tabs the loss.
Some whine, ‘oh it’s not fair Dobnak got the loss.’ Maybe. But tighter ship come extras, don’t let that run in.
It seems as though the biggest complaints come right after someone’s team has been adversely impacted by the new rule.
“Are we here just trying to end the game, or do we want to see the best team win?” Justin Morneau said.
Well Justin, shouldn’t the best group of guys be able to win in extras?
A guy pitches a gem, gets pulled and the bullpen blows it. Yep, that’s no fun, but teamwork makes the dream work. That’s baseball. The best TEAM should have gotten it done in nine. If they didn’t, they are fortunate enough to get another chance in extras. The room for error just tightens. The best team - whoever that may be - still has equal opportunity to win.
Strategy wins games. Pitching wins games. Teamwork wins games. You had nine innings to win.
We as humans just like to complain. We as humans don’t like change. We as humans don’t like our team to lose. That’s it.
Look at the PGA. In most tournaments, if two players tie, they go to a sudden-death playoff. Players have 72 holes to win, but if they don’t...it comes down to one, or a few, more holes for all the marbles. One might argue, “Yeah but it’s always been that way.” True, but maybe baseball should have always been this way too.
A brief example, and then I will stop boring you with golf. In the 2008 Players Championship Sergio Garcia and Paul Goydos went into a sudden-death playoff at Sawgrass. Usually, a playoff is on 18 because everyone is already there, but this year the committee agreed on moving the playoff to the island-green hole 17 because it would be more exciting for fans (Oh my, a change!)
A par 3 for the playoff? Very rare. Goydos went in the water, Sergio won. Was Sergio the “best team” to win? Not necessarily, but there is little room for error in extras. Paul Goydos should have found a way to win in the other 72 holes he played.
The game evolves. We have gotten used to the DH. That started in the ‘70s. The idea of the new extra-innings rule is to speed up the game. If it keeps more fans in tune, then I am all for it.
If you are the best team, you should still win.
Why (in my opinion) the new rule is a-okay:
1. It speeds up the game
2. It’s better than a tie
3. It’s equal for both teams
4. It’s entertaining, it keeps fans engaged
5. It puts more pressure on your pitching staff who in turn won’t likely be depleted from
6. YOU HAD NINE INNINGS TO WIN THE GAME!
**Additional positive: Fans don’t have to sit through multiple innings after last-call in the 7th
Let’s just be thankful a coin toss doesn’t determine who gets to hit first, and if that team scores, it’s over. Would ya look at that...I guess we were able to adapt to that change in the NFL (it was for the better.)