As Major League Baseball continues to ponder ways to shorten games, one of the proposed ideas, according to an Associated Press report, is putting runners on second base to start the 11th inning of the All-Star game. Same goes for spring training games that reach 10 innings.
This, like the proposed 20-second pitch clock and limiting visits to the pitcher’s mound, figures to be one of the topics of discussion this week as the league and the MLB Players Association meet in Beverly Hills. The pitch clock, according to previous reports, is something the players aren’t in favor of but the league could implement without their approval.
This new idea, though, reportedly has the players’ approval. From the AP’s Ronald Blum:
The experiment also would be used in the 10th inning of spring training games, according to the Jan. 9 proposal obtained by The Associated Press. Spring training games would be capped at 10 innings.
The players’ association isn’t expected to oppose the concept because it is concerned about injuries from extending games that don’t count. MLB isn’t considering using the rule in any games that count.
Not yet, at least. If the rule were to get proposed for regular-season games, then there might be more of a stink about it — either by players or traditionalists who don’t want to see the game changing more than it already has.
The runners-on-base-in-extra-innings idea isn’t new. The World Baseball Classic, for instance, starts with runners at first and second once a game reaches 11 innings. It’s also an idea that MLB has used in rookie ball — both in Arizona and in the Golf Coast League — and cut the average extra-innings game down by 16 minutes.
Nobody should complain about trying to limit extra innings in spring training. And now that the All-Star game doesn’t count toward home-field advantage in the World Series, it’s hard to see anybody getting too upset about this in a game where players are taking pictures with umpires.
The real question is whether this is a slow approach to implementing such a rule in regular-season games. MLB is known for slowly introducing new rules to test them — like it did with the pitch clock in minor-league games.
If that’s the end-game of this extra-innings idea, it would warrant an entirely different conversation.
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