The late-inning thrillers in the MLB are a thing of the past. The past three seasons have featured a runner on second base to begin each inning after the ninth, and games can be won without a team even getting a hit. Games are unfairly won and lost by this rule, and it should not be part of Major League Baseball.
During the lockout, it seemed a lot was going to change, and fans expected the ghost runner rule to be one of the many changes. They got their hopes up, and now it is hard to tell if this rule will ever be revised. The league is expected to abandon this rule, but I am not quite willing to trust the decision-makers yet.
Some of the most memorable games in the MLB are ones that go well past the 9th inning and force teams to make a lot of tough decisions. You see players pitch that normally doesn’t and there is a lot of excitement from everyone involved. The longest extra-inning game since the rule change was 16 innings, but it is becoming rare for them to even get past 10 innings.
MLB’s Reasoning Behind Runners on Second
“In an effort to preserve player health and safety during the condensed schedule, the rule that each extra inning begins with a runner on second base has been restored for the 2022 season, continuing what was in place for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.”
This came from the MLB website, but I do not think the condensed schedule should not be to blame. The game continues to change, and maybe for the better, but many fans are angry that America’s Pastime continues to be changed.
In the 2020 shortened Covid season, ratings for extra innings on MLB.TV doubled with the rule. That stat is true, but sports finally being back on television after COVID took everything away from the sports world probably played the biggest role in that.
MLB continues to change in favor of its casual fans, and they are losing diehard fans as a result. Granted, I am glad the lockout ended and baseball is back, but it is frustrating for baseball purists.
What Professionals Have to Say
For obvious reasons, almost every manager loves the rule. It ends games quicker and rarely results in a depleted bullpen. Many managers have publicly stated their positive feelings toward the rule being part of the game.
Rich Hill of the Boston Red Sox is one of many players who are against the runner on 2nd base. “Honestly, if we want to go into it more, it’s at-bats, it’s innings pitched,” Hill said. “There’s a lot of different angles that we could [take] … It’s just like the seven-inning doubleheaders. This isn’t development league. This isn’t instructional baseball. This is the big leagues.”
Devin Smeltzer, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, has a similar sentiment. He dislikes all the new rules saying, “My honest opinion? It’s the dumbest thing they’ve ever done,” Smeltzer said. “I mean, it’s destroying the game.”
At the end of the day, some people love the rule, some people hate it, but the experiment is over and it is time for the MLB to get rid of the automatic runner.
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