March 14, 2018

The Beginning Of The End

I have been a Boston Red Sox fan for 42 years and for most of that time I was skeptical - often extremely so, and with very good reason - that I would ever see a World Series championship. All I really wanted to was to see one.

And I have witnessed three! My obsession with the team has certainly lessened during the thirteen seasons since 2004 and that is probably a good thing. If I had to, I could comfortably live the rest of my life without major league baseball. Which is good to know, because I can sense that the day I sever my relationship with the sport might not be too far over the horizon.

The Associated Press reported today that "extra innings throughout the minor leagues will start with a runner at second base".
"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest," NAPBL president Pat O'Conner said in a statement. ...

The runner at second will be the batter in the order prior to that inning's leadoff hitter... A runner who starts an extra inning at second shall be counted as reaching on an error for purposes of determining earned runs, but no errors shall be charged.
Today is not April 1. This is really happening. And it is so far beyond fucked up ...

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports:
The runner-on-second rule is taken from the World Baseball Classic and has been tested in the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League. Last year, for what it's worth, Rob Manfred said he doubted the rule would ever be used in the majors, but the fact that it's moving up to Triple-A suggests that his mind may be changing.
What Manfred said was: "We don't really expect that we're ever going to apply them at the major league level, at least in the short term"

Do you trust Rob Manfred not to one day decide to reconsider that policy? I certainly don't.

And neither does SB Nation's Matt Collins: "Every sign is pointing towards this eventually coming to the majors, though. Manfred has said that won't happen, but I find that hard to believe at this point given how quickly this rule is expanding to different levels of the game."

Regular Season Games - 2,430
Extra Inning Games - 182 (7.5%)
Games Lasting 10 Innings - 87 (3.68%)
Games Lasting 11 Innings - 51 (2.1%)
Games Lasting 12 Innings - 20 (0.8%)
Games Lasting 13 innings - 12 (0.5%)
Games Lasting 14+ Innings - 12 (0.5%)
7.5% of a team's schedule is 12 out of 162 games. That's two games per month, one game going into extra innings every two weeks. ... And almost half of those extra inning games - 48% - last season were over after 10 innings.

In fact, only 44 out of 2,430 games lasted more than 11 innings: 1.8%. ... 2 out of every 100 games last season (an average of three per team) went into the 12th inning. ... And for THAT, Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to destroy the very fundamentals of the game that have been in place for almost 150 years.

Also: If both teams begin every extra inning with a man on second, then they have an equal chance to score. Just like they do now, starting off with the bases empty. In other words, there is no actual advantage being gained here to have games end quicker. There will simply be more games in which each team scores 1 or 2 or however many runs in an extra inning and the game - still tied - goes on.


Jim said...

Yep, this stinks. As I said a few days ago, Manfred is worse than Selig. I think the next players' strike will be the intervention that cures my life-long baseball addiction.

Benjamin said...

If you want less baseball, just stop playing baseball. Declare a tie and go home. Don't choose an arbitrary winner through penalty shootouts or coin tosses or whatever; just admit nobody won for real, and let them try again next time. It's a long season, so maybe it's okay sometimes if no one wins. I prefer keeping extra inning baseball as is, but at least that'd be a rational proposal for solving this so-called problem.

Not this travesty. Might as well watch cricket if they're going to start pulling this shit.

allan said...

Every winter for the last few years, I think that maybe I will retire the blog. Then the season starts and I get into it again (though on a smaller scale than in the past). Maybe this and a few other horrific changes will be what pulls the plug.

Clem said...

Sounds like the same language Manfred has used regarding ads on uniforms. "I don't foresee...probably won't happen, at least until fans get used to the Under Armour logo that's going on the front of jerseys next year..." I can only surmise that by 2020 players will be wearing sandwich boards and each half inning will begin with the bases loaded.

laura k said...

This is so, so sad. Honestly, it's heartbreaking.

It's always an experiment. The DH, the wild card, whatever, MLB tells fans it's an experiment, until everyone gets used to it and forgets it was supposed to be temporary.

If you want less baseball, just stop playing baseball. Declare a tie and go home.

I agree -- with one edit. If you want less baseball, and you hate extra innings, turn off your TV or walk out of the park and go home. Don't change the rules because some people can't sit through an entire game.

You'd think there'd be some blowback from sponsors, too. Longer games means more ad time.

Easy and obvious solution. Shave 1 minute (or even 30 seconds!) off each commercial block between innings. Ta-da, you've picked up the pace of the game. Then make the sponsors happy by telling them long games means more cash for them.

Jim said...

Actually, Laura K, you could be on to something. Find a sympathetic oligarch (there must be one somewhere) and have her sink a fortune into a fake news study that proves that the less people see an ad, the more likely they are to buy a product. The less promos, the more someone is likely to find the product less annoying than the rest. Someone actually states that maybe that's why streaming services are more popular than network TV. Voila, bandwagon jumping ensues and commercial time is shortened. Dave O'Brien may have to look for work but eggs, meet omelette.

Jere said...

New rule: all 9 players are Aaron Judge forever. Ratings bonanza! How 'bout it, science? (Bonus rule: all 40,000 fans are Jeter's parents.)

allan said...

Does MLB really think that there are people who want to watch baseball but refuse to do so until there is a 20-second clock on the pitcher, but only with the bases empty?

Or that there exist other people who do not want to commit to watching a 3-hour game because what if it's one of the 7.5% of games that go into extra innings and the extra innings do NOT start with a guy already on second base? I mean, fuck that shit.

FenFan said...

The idea is really beyond stupid. You want to speed up the game? Then tell the umpires to enforce the rule that the batters must stay in the box between pitches and the pitchers must deliver the ball within 20 seconds after it's thrown back to them. I don't think it would take long to change players' habits in this area.

To Laura's point, shave a minute off each break between innings; at a minimum, in a game that ends after the top of the ninth, that's 16 minutes. You really cannot make up the difference with all the in-game ad spots that litter my televised view of the game?

To Allan's point, people who think baseball is boring are not going to suddenly tune into games or come to the park because MLB makes a change to the extra inning rules. I have several friends who have zero interest in baseball and this is not going to reassess their position on the matter.

As terrible as Selig was, Manfred is doing his best to surpass his predecessor's ineptness in record time. Hell, he's practically sprinting towards the edge of the abyss.

laura k said...

Here in our little community, on this one thread, we've thought of three or four workable ideas that would speed up the pace of the game without messing with the fundamentals of the sport. And MLB can't come up with even one?