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The Flyby - We Want Baseball and We Want it Now!

It wasn’t even a contest.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Andrew Benintendi’s career is still young. If MLB shortens games, then he may never get a fair shake to build an extra innings legacy. He’ll have to settle for merely being good at everything.
Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

We got a ton of submissions this weekend, to the point where it’s going to have to be a lightning round, just to make sure every piece is covered.

In short, I asked you all to consider extra innings in baseball, and whether you enjoy it, hate it, or are utterly indifferent to it. Then, I asked for potential solutions, because MLB seems to hate the idea of 40-inning baseball games.


BlackWilson gets us started off on the right foot. And by that, I mean he gets me. Baseball is the most beautiful sport in the world, and I could sit and watch it for hours on end. Some of the best games I’ve ever seen weren’t settled in 9, 10, or even 11 innings. Some games just keep going, because they must.

The reality is that most people can’t watch baseball for six or seven hours at a time. I’m at that point of my life as well, where if the stars don’t align perfectly, I might have to catch some sleep before the game’s conclusion.

But even still, that’s not a fault of the sport, nor is it a fault of the system. Because the beauty of the game comes from the way the game is played. If you lose in 19 innings, there is nothing more agonizing. If you get a walk-off at 3 in the morning, you feel awful, but amazing at the same time.

Atlanta Braves v Boston Red Sox
This walk-off probably didn’t happen at three in the morning, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting. Winning late in a ballgame can be exhilarating, just as losing late can be deflating. Such is being human.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

These moments need to be preserved.

We don’t have any rule on length, for FanPost Fridays (other than the basic rules that all FanPosts must abide by). Keep that in mind, all submissions are welcome, regardless of length. One submission from yuj showcases this.

Short and sweet, yuj proposes a version of speed baseball which is not unlike what you’d experience in MLB the Show with Quick Counts on.

It works for a video game, so why not real life, too? Joking aside, while I would probably never support that idea so openly (I like the idea of preserving the integrity of the game as is), it wouldn’t be the absolute worst idea in the world. That would be putting runners on bases automatically, without any hitter skill factoring into the equation.

While gosawks has had many good FanPosts lately, I have to say I’m not enthused with the idea of baseball being anything like hockey.

They hurt my heart with their sacrilegious statements on how hockey is supposedly superior to the greatest game ever invented. This aside, their idea is well-thought out, although I cannot vouch for the seriousness of the poster. (This is one downside with asking you guys to be wacky. I can never tell quite what your intent is.)

Their first pitch is to put up plexiglass walls everywhere, which will cut down on dingers (boo), and take away opportunities to get a foul ball (big deal for kids). The idea is well intentioned, as this would lead to a more cohesive and quick experience.

They also suggest line changes, which just sounds like a cluster of awfulness just waiting to happen. Can you imagine, Craig Kimbrel, jogging out in a super hurry, to get to the mound at the right moment, while Chris Sale is trying not to commit a foul by being the 10th man on the field? One over extended hamstring later, and the season is over. This does not sound like a fun idea to me.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Please keep in glass case and away from line shifts, in case of emergency.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I can get behind penalties though! That would have been neat to have when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia (which could, in turn, mean less retaliation in the future, which we can all get behind). The best part about penalties is they don’t even have to be totally intentional. It could be 100% unintentional, and you’d still get penalized for it. This would also remove a lot of the argument about intent, and make things much cleaner. Or not. Maybe there’d be more fist fights. I can’t really tell the future.

Probably the best idea they have (although seemingly unrelated) is an expansion into Las Vegas. Everyone else is going there, so why not MLB? You don’t even need to make a new franchise. Move the Oakland A’s, or the Tampa Bay Rays, or the Miami Marlins. Not sure how it helps extra inning baseball, but hey, I like it!

They follow this idea up by suggesting we compete for the Stanley Cup, which is a pretty good way to get me to stop watching baseball. Hey, bookmark that suggestion in case I do the FPF topic “I have decided I want to hate baseball, find a way to make OOLF hate baseball.”

Ultimately, I think we can agree that extra innings are a great part of the game, and MLB is being silly in trying to change things.

Have I mentioned I really like silly stuff? Because I do. Ricochet! came with some excellent stand-up this week, and it has earned precisely one guffaw (OK, maybe two).

What other reaction could I have to any idea that involves removing almost half of all baseball players from the field, loads the bases, and Patrick Star?

MLB, if you are reading this, and you are going to change extra innings (please don’t, it’s perfect the way it is), follow Ricochet!’s FanPost for instructions on how to do it right.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Mookie is already incredible. In this new system proposed by Ricochet, however, I think Mookie might be the best player on the planet.
Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

But tomisphere had to be reasonable! In a piece that was infinitely more serious than anything else submitted this week, tomisphere suggests limiting games to a total of 12 innings, then going to a tie.

This would be a very anti-climactic way to end games, and could lead to some interesting situations late in the season, when determining playoff seeding and such, but it’s a fairly plausible suggestion that MLB might just be able to do.

They do note that 80% of current extra inning games are over by the end of the 12th, so you are only adversely affecting 1/5th of all extra innings games directly. (I am of the belief that if the rule was changed to there being a 12 inning max, that teams would strategize differently.)

I would not be satisfied with this solution, because ties are for people who watch football or hockey. In baseball, there must be a winner. I do not accept compromises here.

Again, thanks to OTM Staff Writers who take the time to respond as well.

Max Marcovitch

There’s nothing in sports quite like staying up to watch your team play an extra-innings game. You hang on for one more inning, until you’re suddenly sitting there at 2am in the 15th inning in too deep to go to bed. And if they lose, that drowsiness the next day is amplified to the point of deep regret. The time is now to take our sleep back, and maybe make baseball a little more fun in the process.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Getting plenty of sleep is the best way to avoid making errors in the morning. But it’s also probably a good idea to not be the Red Sox third basemen, if your goal is to avoid making errors.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Here’s my proposal:

The game plays out as normal, until the end of the 14th inning (some arbitrary stopping point; I’m not wedded to this specific ending.) After the home team is retired in the bottom of the 14th — if the game is still tied — we head to a home run derby. This will now become the baseball equivalent of a penalty kick shootout in soccer or a shootout in hockey. This will only apply in the regular season; like the NHL shootout, it will not take place in a playoff series.

At that point, each team selects one player, and only one player, to participate in the derby. They get 10 outs to hit as many homeruns — same as the derby at all-star weekend — as they can. The manager has to be the one throwing the pitches, and the defense is allowed to try to rob home runs. This player now becomes a weapon, consider it almost a strategic advantage to have a slugger fresh off the bench to come in and hit a bunch of homers. It could even change the way teams manage rosters.

Would teams pick their star? Would they keep someone fresh on the bench? How would this affect the way managers are hired?

This will never happen, but it could be the antidote to countless hours of lost sleep over relatively meaningless regular season baseball.

Mike Carlucci

Extra innings are one of the things left in modern sports that harken back to the old days. It's in the tradition of George Carlin comparing and contrasting baseball and football: a park vs a battlefield. Baseball doesn't have quarters or halves. It doesn't have a clock. Well, mostly.

Sure, a 15, 17, or 19 inning game isn't necessarily what you signed up for at first pitch but you have to consider that every team plays 162 games per season and most fans attend a tiny fraction of those.

What is the alternative? Having teams start with runners in scoring position? On base? Seven inning games? Ties?

For a game so dedicated to the record book and historical comparisons, how would these changes impact the century-long perspective? Runs and RBIs generated by the generosity of the rules lacks the excitement and fairness of a fresh inning where an outfielder might take the mound or a pitcher stand on first base hoping that the platoon advantage returns to them quickly.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Hey, the 2004 Red Sox got a mention!
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Where would the Red Sox 2004 run have been without extra innings? Watching the clock hit midnight wasn't just a factor of longer commercial breaks. It was drama. And maybe that's the solution: ties in the regular season after some low-teens number of innings and extras a postseason treat. But that's hardly fitting with the whimsical appearances of long games, where more and more fans start tuning in just to see what happens next. There's a magic to long games because they don't happen that often. MLB should make the same mistake as with intentional walks: taking away a once-in-a-lifetime event to save a couple seconds here and there.

I don’t think my opinion is all that secret. Extra innings are vital to baseball, at least, from my perspective.

Without extra innings, we would be missing out on a lot of what has made the past few years so much fun. Without extra innings games going 19 innings, we don’t have the Song of Storms. That alone is enough to convince me that it has a place in our hearts, and in the world’s greatest sport.

Baseball without extra innings is like pizza without pepperoni. It just doesn’t make sense.

See you all next week!