There will be new rule tested in some Minor League Baseball games this year. The Gulf Coast League and the Arizona League will be placing a runner on 2nd base to begin extra innings. In the article that Bleacher Report published (read it here), it seems it is heavily due to this being practiced in international competitions. The World Baseball Classic is currently playing with these rules in place. They do, however, mention that this could increase the pace of play, which is a hot topic in the baseball world these days.
In response to all this, I have a few thoughts..
1. Why is pace of play such a "problem" for everyone?!
2. Extra inning baseball is a gift, not a hindrance.
3. From past experience, this rule sucks.
I realize this is just being tested at the MiLB level, but I have an issue with it in any level of baseball. Let's work backwards up this list..
Experience with this Rule..
I played competitive softball for 12 years, obviously not at an MLB level, but I'm relating this subject to me anyways ;P -- If we were tied at the end of regulation we began extra innings with a runner on 2nd. Now, in softball, it was almost always followed by a bunt to get the runner to 3rd with one out and try and score her (and hopefully more) after the sacrifice. I, whole-heartedly, believe "small ball" will not be the approach taken in baseball with this rule. I don't like that, (more small ball please!!), but to each their own! This is not my main reason for disliking this rule though.
As a pitcher, (yep, that was me), I hated this rule. It's already stressful because it is extra innings, but then you're gifted a runner in scoring position. Perfect. Wonderful. Awesome.. yeah those were never the thoughts running through my head! - Stress and pressure rise when a base runner gets on, and as they advance around the bases, for all positions on the field. Now, these guys are pros so they should know how to deal with this pressure and get the outs anyways, but on the flip side of this, they ARE professionals, why does the offense need to be gifted a runner on 2nd base. They get paid the big bucks, figure out a way to win the traditional way!
From a selfish point of view, this messes with pitching stats and game plans. We all know pitchers who are lights out when no one is on base, but base runners can really get in their heads. I'm not making excuses for these guys, if they allow a base runner they need to deal with it, not let it bother them. However, if the runner is on second because of a new rule, not because they allowed him there, said pitcher may be more of a liability than a help to the team. This could cause coaches to completely take a pitcher out of consideration for extra innings. Again, it's the majors and they should get over this but Lester literally will not throw to a base and he's coming of a World Series win...the issue exists.
Extra Innings are a Gift..
I have literally never been at a ballgame and been upset because I had to stay for extra innings. Sure, if my team blew a lead I'd be upset, but I've never been upset because of the length of a game. I do not understand people who think this way. Some of the best playoff games in the last two or three years have been extra inning games. Cubs vs Indians this past year and Royals vs A's in 2014. Those are classics! Yep, I had to work or attend class early the next day, but I stayed up and I didn't want them to end. Extra inning baseball is a gift! Why would you want to shorten that?! Let it play out! - As a Cardinals fan, if the new rule had been adopted for Game 6 in 2011 I wouldn't have one of the best baseball moments of all time to look back on. I'm just not okay with that. If y'all need a refresher watch my favorite YouTube video literally ever here!
"It's not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing an utility infielder in to pitch." - Joe Torre
I beg to differ Mr. Torre. That is entertaining. I don't remember what season it was or even who all was on the teams, but I remember watching the Arizona Diamondbacks, when I was in elementary school, play one of the longest games I've ever seen. I remember this game because they were pulling players from all positions in to pitch. And the players loved it! They were all laughing and having a good time. Yeah it wasn't pretty baseball, but it was fun. I don't want every game to be like this by any means, but I don't think you need to rule out this completely. If it happens, it happens.
Pace of Play "Problems"..
Why do I feel like the only person in America who thinks that we should leave baseball alone? Baseball has been around for a LONG time, why is the pace of play suddenly this huge issue? Have you ever watched the last five minutes of a football game? Or a basketball game, specifically during March Madness? That's slow, and commercial infused.. Baseball is baseball, leave it be! You don't watch baseball to watch a fast-paced contact sport. If you are, then maybe you should research sports a little more. I just cannot agree that the pace of play is an issue that needs addressed. I just can't. If you disagree I'd love to hear your reasoning. If it ain't broke, don't fix it though and can anyone honestly provide proof that baseball is "broke"? Thoughts and opinions welcome!
So, here's to hoping this test fails (like me taking a chemistry exam..) and we don't have to worry about it every being considered in the MLB.
Baseball has been played this way for years, why change it now?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the proposed rule and how you think testing in out in the Minor Leagues will go!