Here’s another twist on how pro leagues are resolving tie games: the Pioneer League will not go to extra innings and instead launch a head-to-head, “sudden death” home-run duel.
The “Knock-Out” rule is billed as a way to avoid the excessive strain on pitching staffs. As noted, the head-to-head, “sudden death” home run duel has each team designating a hitter who receives 5 pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit. If still tied after the first “Knock Out” round, another hitter is selected for a sudden-death home run face-off until a winner is declared.
How baseball manages extra innings has come under debate this season after MLB adopted controversial rules placing a runner on second base to begin each inning, with the winner determined by who has the most runs at the bottom of the inning. Under these circumstances, a strategy isn’t as clear-cut as you’d imagine: an unsophisticated approach has a team bunting the runner to third and then attempting to bring him home with at least a sacrifice fly or a fielder’s choice. But playing for a single run won’t get you many wins, especially as the visiting team, as the home team can match that strategy and keep the game going, The savvier play is to take a chance and let the first batter of the inning swing away with the goal of scoring at least two runnings, putting pressure on the home team to do the same in their half of the inning. Yes, we know this rule is reviled by tradionalists who live for multiple extra innings, but it’s popular with players who fear 14-inning marathons on getaway days and would rather see the game resolved.
Other rules this season for the new MLB Partner League: The Designated Pinch Hitter rule permits a player not having previously entered into the game to pinch hit for an eligible roster player, who may then return to his defensive position for the remainder of the game, until otherwise substituted for. The Designated Pinch Hitter is thereafter ineligible to return to the game. The Designated Pinch Hitter can only be employed once a game by each team. Similarly, the Designated Pinch Runner rule permits a player not having previously entered into the game to pinch run for an eligible roster player who may then return to his defensive position for the remainder of the game, until otherwise substituted for. The Designated Pinch Runner is thereafter ineligible to return to the game. The Designated Pinch Runner can only be employed once a game by each team.
Yes, the Pioneer League folks are tinkering with the rules in order to add a little excitement to the game. But as an MLB Partner League, owners are free to make up the rules as they go along.
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