Major League Baseball is looking at a rule change to shorten extra-inning games by placing a runner at second at the beginning of every inning could be tested in two camp-based rookie leagues this season.
The goal is to shorten extra-inning games, but the ultimate goal may be to save wear and tear on pitching staffs stretched to the limit with 17- or 18-inning games, as well as reigning in late-night travel for all players. Now, the placement of a runner at second isn’t actually all that unusual: it’s done in international play and will be part of the upcoming World Baseball Classic rules. And let’s face it — most extra-inning games don’t last 17 or 18 innings at either the MLB or MiLB level. Still, given that the practice actually has a track record and support from MLB types, it probably will be under consideration from MLB rulemakers in two or three years. From Yahoo.com:
“Let’s see what it looks like,” said Joe Torre, the longtime major league manager who’s now MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer and a strong proponent of the testing. “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.
“It’s baseball. I’m just trying to get back to that, where this is the game that people come to watch. It doesn’t mean you’re going to score. You’re just trying to play baseball.”
The rule change will be tested in the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League — the two sparsely attended camp-based leagues — and you can expect it to be tested at higher levels of the minors before it’s discussed as a viable option in the majors. Perhaps the only metric that will count under these circumstances: whether it takes fewer innings to resolve a tied game. The NFL and the NHL have overhauled overtime rules in recent years and the sports survived, but expect purists to raise objections to this proposed rule should it reach the Major League Baseball level.