As Major League Baseball continues wrapping its head around Thursday's announced rule changes, some players are already advocating for the next changes they would like to see.
That includes San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who on Friday suggested that MLB adopt an extreme measure that he believes is guaranteed to help ease the league's pace-of-play concerns.
According to Samardzija, MLB needs ties.
Not bowties. Not neckties. Not even hair ties. He's talking “it's 2-2 after nine innings so let's call it a tie,” ties.
Here’s Samardzija’s full quote on the matter, courtesy of the Mercury News’ Kerry Crowley:
— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) March 15, 2019
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. At least not anytime soon.
Samardzija does make some interesting points though, especially in the middle of his commentary.
"It makes the ninth inning exciting all the time," Samardzija said. "And really, who wants to go out there and play 15 innings? The relievers don't want it. The position players don't want it. The managers don't want it. Then they've got to move the rosters around the next day."
Extra-inning games can be a pain, especially when teams are playing 15-20 straight days without a break. Playing 10 innings one night, then 15 innings the next, can take a toll that impacts a team for several days after. Especially with the travel involved.
Of course, that’s of no great concern to most fans. Not surprisingly, their response has been overwhelming “It’s baseball. Deal with it.”
The game has always been that way. Why change now? And above all else, why bring in a points system that makes us do more math?
Three points for a win, one point for a tie was Samardzija’s suggestion. It all sounds good. But what happens when an 85-win Giants team misses the postseason by one point because they happened to tie with the Marlins in August? Those extra innings would look better then.
MLB’s extra-inning experiment
In a twist of fate that everyone can appreciate, just one hour after Samardzija made those comments his Giants completed a 5-5 tie with the Los Angeles Angels.
We’ve got two words for you: Spring training.
But there was another level of irony here because this specific Cactus League game featured an MLB first involving an extra-inning rule that they’ve experimented with in the minor leagues.
In the minors, all extra innings begin with a runner on second base in hopes of creating scoring opportunities and quicker resolutions. That rule had never been used in any type of MLB game until this one.
Naturally, it didn’t help. Both the Giants and Angels failed to score despite the offensive advantage, and since it was spring training neither team was motivated to continue.
Take your ties where you can get’em, right Jeff?
In all seriousness, it’s difficult to imagine MLB taking any real extreme measures in regards to extra innings. That means you can forget about ties. But some form of the minor league rule seems at least possible. Perhaps after 10 or 12 innings, but certainly not in the ninth.
What’s crystal clear is that MLB is more open than ever to changes under commissioner Rob Manfred. If there ever was a time for us to be completely surprised by a rules change, we might be living in it.
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