When the 2020 St. Louis Cardinals season starts, the game will look different. Not only will there be a universal DH, but extra innings will also be different.
Even when the powers that be decide that St. Louis Cardinals baseball is going to be played in 2020, it can never be that straight forward. It would’ve been really easy to just let the 60-game season be implemented and leave it there. However, the MLB has decided that it needs to combat long extra innings games head-on. Sadly, the way they’ve chosen to do so is a real pain.
If you haven’t heard yet, in all innings after the 9th, there will be a runner on second base to start each inning. Like dropping overtime to three players from five in hockey, this move is intended to increase offense to end games before they go into deep extra innings. Any runs scored by that planted runner at second base would count as unearned runs and pitchers wouldn’t receive a loss for it.
So far, the consensus is that this idea is just plain awful.
There are many reasons why the league wants to limit long games, and that all makes sense. The longer players are at the ballpark, the more chance they have to come in contact with someone who has the virus. Even if that is hooey, playing 60 games in fewer than 70 days won’t leave many off days in the schedule. Having a game go to the 17th inning could ruin a team’s bullpen for weeks.
I really hope this is only a thing in 2020 and if the league is so worried about limiting extra innings, why not take the KBO route?
In the KBO, games are called a tie after the 12th inning. Why not just do that?
The percentage of games that actually get to the 12th inning tied is so so little in the MLB, and if you just call it a tie, it would ensure games would actually after the 12th. There is a world where games could go just as long even with a runner starting on second base.
Out of 2,430 games in a regular 162-game season, having 37 ties spread around the league wouldn’t hurt anything. A gimmick like a runner on second base rule just makes things weird.
This rule was instituted in the minor leagues before the 2019 season and was met with disdain. Big surprise.
As seen in the article above, this rule did do a good job limiting long games at the minor league level in 2019, with the vast majority finishing before the 12th inning.
This rule was clearly another thing (like the DH) that the MLB has convinced themselves we would all thank them for. It’s once again sad that the pandemic was used to move along the MLB’s agenda. Different than the DH, I haven’t seen many people defend this rule as a good idea.
Ties would be weird in themselves, but it offers a definite end to the game and it would be such an infrequent occurrence that it wouldn’t matter in the long run.
While we all hope this change is just for 2020, odds are that it will stick around for a while. It may make for some fun moments, but I think it disrupts the flow of the game more than is necessary. There are certainly better alternatives.