Minor League Baseball’s New Extra Inning Rule Not Fool Proof
Over the last two years, Minor League Baseball has performed extremely well with their pace of play changes to help speed up games. For 2018, a new extra innings rule is being experimented at every level. Beginning in the 10th inning, each team at bat will start with a runner at second base and nobody out. The idea behind the change is for teams to score runs in extra innings so games will not last forever. Judging by yesterday's extra inning affair between the Chihuahuas and 51's, the rule is a work in progress.
In the top of the 10th, Chihuahuas pitcher T.J. Weir picked off Patrick Biondi at second base for the first out of the inning. Weir then retired the next two batters to keep the game tied at 5. In the bottom of the 10th, a comebacker to Vegas reliever Drew Smith resulted in Chihuahuas pinch runner Travis Jankowski being caught in a pickle between second and third base. By the time Jankowski was tagged out by third baseman Phillip Evans for the first out, El Paso's lead runner was no longer in scoring position. Las Vegas proceeded to get the next two outs and send the game to the 11th inning still tied at 5. The 51's won the game by a final score of 9-6 in 11 innings.
It is a shame that MILB has these new extra innings rules in place to prevent marathon games. As a baseball purist, I have always liked extra inning games, especially for fans who are attending the games. My dad once told me a story about how he attended the first 14 innings of a Mets-Giants game at Shea Stadium in May 1964, and by the time he arrived back in Brooklyn from an hour-plus subway ride, the game was still being played. The Giants won that marathon 8-6 in 23 innings, which took seven hours and 23 minutes to play. What he didn't tell me was that it was the second game of a double-header and the total time for both games which included 32 innings of baseball was nearly ten hours!
Since Major League Baseball has always considered player development their top priority for affiliated Minor League ball, these new rules could possibly prevent injuries or player overuse since games be shortened. As much as I loathe this new pace of play change, my only hope is that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred never decides to ever incorporate this rule in big league play.