A BIZARRE BASEBALL RULE CHANGE IS IMPLEMENTED (COMMENT). I posted here five weeks ago about a proposed baseball rule change which would automatically place a runner on second base at the start of each extra inning. I said that my first reaction had been that this was an April Fool joke. Well it’s already happened, on an experimental basis, and in an important game.

Nick commented on my post that tie break rules in other sports use an important feature of the game—shootouts in hockey for example, (or penalty shots in soccer). The proposed rule for baseball, Nick predicted, “would likely result in a bunting competition”.

Nick then sent me this post by Lindsey Adler on the Deadspin web site about the semi-final World Baseball Classic game between the Netherlands and Puerto Rico. The rule change used in the game was even more extreme than the proposal I had discussed. Beginning with the eleventh inning, each team started with runners on both first and second. As Nick predicted, each team bunted successfully to begin their inning. The Netherlands didn’t score. Puerto Rico, which had the advantage of batting second, scored a run and moved on to the finals.

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  1. Nick says:

    And all of this to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist. Intentional walks and extra innings games are going to add to the length of games, but they’re unusual, and often lead to greater entertainment.

    The real sources of pace of play issues are because of lengthy commercial breaks and more pitching changes. I don’t see how you can insist on changing the latter, as it seems wrong to ask teams forfeit strategies that will help them win games (or keep pitchers healthy, for that matter). If MLB wants to reduce the former, then…well, they’re more serious about shortening broadcasts than I would have thought.

    To me, though, they’re chasing an audience who will never be interested. Shaving 10-15 minutes off a game isn’t going to make the “baseball is too slow/boring” crowd change their minds.

    Instead, they should stop aggressively fighting fans from enjoying the product. E.g. blackout restrictions, years of crushing fan-made films on YouTube (like the NBA embraces) etc. And, come down harder on the Fun Police players who will throw a fastball in the ear or ribs of a player who shows any emotion when they hit a home run.

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