Extra innings start with a runner on second base

by on February 9, 2017 at 9:40 am in Current Affairs, Law, Sports, Uncategorized | Permalink

Here is a description of the proposed rule change.  Felix Salmon asked:

I know nothing about baseball, but wouldn’t this give even more of an advantage to the team batting first?

I would expect the opposite (NB: I am not suggesting a weakness in Felix’s analytical abilities, only that British people don’t usually “get” baseball).  The team batting second in the inning always has more information than the team batting first, because the home team (which bats second) knows what the visitors scored in their half of the inning.

The closer you are to “runs,” the more valuable is this differential in information.  To see this, take those cases where the first-batting team fails to score in the top of the tenth inning.  The home team can then play for “only one run.”  If no one is on base, the strategies for “only one run” and “a bunch of runs” aren’t that different.  You’d like to start with some extra base hits, home runs, etc., in either case.  But with a man already on second (or on third, to see the point more clearly), you can consider some alternate strategies, such as just poking the ball to the opposite field.  You don’t need to swing for a home run so much, or try to stretch a single into a double, and so on.  You can play more conservatively in the offense, because you know that a single run suffices to win the game.

For the team that bats first, playing for “only one run” isn’t the sure-fire clincher, and so this helps the team that bats second in the inning, the home team.

Or so it seems to me.

Addendum: Via J.C. Bradbury, Cowen’s Second Law!

1 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 9:50 am

Your analysis seems correct, though I am more of a football guy.

Maybe he thinks the first to score wins?

2 The Other Jim February 9, 2017 at 10:30 am

>Maybe he thinks the first to score wins?

I bet this is it.

In any event, to encourage more (and faster) scoring, a better solution is to play extra innings with few players in the field. Like seven.

3 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 10:37 am

Based on a comment below, it may be that he is interpreting the rule to only give the visiting team an extra runner. The article Tyler links says “Major League Baseball plans on testing a rule change in the minor leagues this season that automatically would place a runner on second base to start extra innings,” which taken literally would only mean at the top of the inning, so only for the visitors. I have to assume it is just bad phrasing, because only giving the visitors a runner on 2nd in extra innings seems crazy.

4 Neil February 9, 2017 at 11:04 am

Yes, presumably that’s why he says “even more.” He’s implicitly comparing it to what just happened in the Super Bowl.

5 Yancey Ward February 9, 2017 at 12:30 pm

And this, too.

6 Yancey Ward February 9, 2017 at 12:29 pm

I think you are correct given the uproar over the just completed Super Bowl where New England won by getting the ball first and scoring a TD.

7 Mark Bahner February 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm

Could have been easily avoided if the Falcons had run on 2nd and 3rd down from the 23 yard line. Up 8 points! Attempting a pass in that situation seems like one of the all-time worst play calls to me.

8 rayward February 9, 2017 at 9:55 am

This gets at the difference in the way the NFL and college football deal with ties. In the NFL, the team that gets the ball first can end the game with a touchdown but not necessarily with a field goal (the other team gets a chance only if the first team with the ball fails to score a touchdown). By contrast, in college football both teams get a chance to score, the big difference being that each team starts at the defense’s 25 yard line, much like starting extra innings in baseball with a runner on second. What seems to happen often in overtime in college football is the endless game, as both teams seem to score again and again. I’m not sure why, but overtime tends to overwhelm what happened before it. I can imagine extra innings games in baseball with a runner already on second producing the same result: the endless game – which is the opposite result of what is intended – because both teams would focus on scoring a single run, the runner on second. Baseball for nine innings is punishment enough for those watching without extending the game endlessly.

9 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 10:07 am

I don’t follow college football closely but I am not aware of many endless games. Starting in the 3rd OT, any touchdown must be followed by a 2 point try.

I’ve seen a couple college games that made it to the 3rd OT, and as I recall they still managed to conclude more quickly than the NFL games I’ve seen go late into OT or end in ties.

Wikipedia says there have been 8 Division I games with 5 or more OTs (the earliest in 2001 – not sure when the OT rule was instituted). Given 100+ teams playing 12-14 games per season (per my memory), that isn’t bad.

10 rayward February 9, 2017 at 10:28 am

This overtime rule, if adopted by MLB, could be called the Modified Bush Rule in honor of the Bush clan; modified because, as we all know, members of the Bush clan were born on third, not second.

11 Johnny B February 10, 2017 at 7:17 pm

In related news, Chelsea Clinton says she won’t run for the Senate.

12 Charlie February 9, 2017 at 2:03 pm

As this past weekend showed, the NFL’s rule gives significant advantage to the winner of the coin flip. They should adopt the college rule, which the Canadian Football League also uses.

13 dan1111 February 10, 2017 at 4:29 am

The college rule also confers a significant advantage (to the team that takes the ball second), because they know how many points they have to go for to win it.

14 Jonathan February 9, 2017 at 10:00 am

The home team already has a substantial advantage in extra innings. This will make it considerably larger by increasing the variance of runs scored.

15 collin February 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

The home team already has the advantage by winning 53 – 55% in extra inning games. They can devise the inning to maximize the chance of scoring the ‘right’ number of runs. So if the game is tied the home goes for maximizing single runs or if they are behind they increase the strategies for higher runs scored. It is not HUGE but still significant.

But, putting a runner on second probably increases this to 65 – 70% of the time.

16 DrBob February 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Isn’t that about the home field advantage in MLB anyway? About 53%?

17 meets February 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

The road team may have an advantage in that they can bring in their best relief pitcher if they score.

18 baseball fan 2342 February 9, 2017 at 10:44 am
19 Eric February 10, 2017 at 5:18 pm

You’re on the right path. Tyler is focusing on the offense, which is only half of the picture. Both teams have more information in the bottom half of the inning. It isn’t clear that the additional information is better for the offense or the defense.

In any event, it’s a really stupid rule and I sincerely hope that it never gets anywhere.

20 Patrick February 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

A big question is whether the runner on second is going to be the next person in the lineup, or if it’s a runner placed at the manager’s discretion. Yes, in option 1 you can still pull the player for a pinch runner, but that first player becomes ineligible if the game does stretch on. I’d like them to treat it as if the leadoff batter hit a double. To the extent that the rule change is gimmicky, I feel it becomes less gimmicky if you do it that way.

21 Jeff R February 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

I wondered about that, too.

I still think it’s gimmicky, though. The extra innings are going to become less about actually getting hits and more about bunts, sac flies, ground balls to the right side, etc. On the other hand, it could result in more plays at the plate, and those are always fun.

Idle speculation: is the best defensive strategy in those situations to walk the leadoff hitter to set up double plays?

22 celestus February 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Does sacrificing two outs to squeeze one run in make sense if you know that the home team is going to start the bottom of the inning with a runner on second? My idle speculation is that the top of the inning will be played straight. In the bottom of the inning, if the visiting team hasn’t scored, I think they’d have to walk the home team’s leadoff hitter as you suggest.

23 asdf February 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

If this idiotic rule goes into effect it would make more sense for them to treat it as if the person who made the last out batted to start the next inning and hit a double

24 PD Shaw February 9, 2017 at 11:04 am

In the World Baseball Classic, starting with the 11th inning, the next batter due to bat is still the next batter, but the player immediately preceding him in the lineup is placed on base (i.e., most likely the guy who just made an out). That’s fairer to the batters, because otherwise the rule would randomly be eliminating at-bats for players.

25 PD Shaw February 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Also appears that in the World Baseball Classic, runners are placed on both first and second.

The WBC is an exhibition game and MLB tightly restricts the use of their players to avoid injury in MLB games. Its not for the betterment of the game.

26 Dick the Butcher February 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

Will it sell tickets and TV time? Does MLB want this for its “relevancy?”

With a player on second base, a sacrifice bunt moves him to third. A long fly ball out scores a run and RBI for the batter. Now, there are two outs no base runners. […]

Is scoring runs the problem? (I am not favor of 25-23 baseball scores.) There are other available (some difficult to uniformly apply?) adjustments. Lower the pitcher’s mound or tighten the umps’ strike zone so that hittable pitches are called (not a missed swing) strikes.

27 albert magnus February 9, 2017 at 10:28 am

I think the goal is to shorten the games and not have to use so many relief pitchers. Extra-Inning games can screw up your bullpen for days.

28 Heorogar February 9, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Fun fact, of all the English kings and queens (including Elizabeth I and Victoria) only Albert is “the Great.”

29 Larry Siegel February 10, 2017 at 1:02 am

Do you mean Alfred (Aelfred)? He was a king of Wessex, not of all England.

It is to Elizabeth’s and Victoria’s credit that they are not “the great.” “Great men are almost always bad men.” – Acton

30 Dick the Butcher February 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Thanks! That makes a lot of sense.

31 Ricardo February 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

I always said the designated hitter rule was the beginning of a slippery slope.

32 The Other Jim February 9, 2017 at 10:34 am

Yeah, first the DH rule, and now FORTY-FOUR YEARS LATER, they are thinking about experimenting with this.

My God, we are whizzing down this slope at breakneck speed!! All because of that damn DH rule!!

33 chuck martel February 9, 2017 at 10:58 pm

A solution in search of a problem. Another example, if any is needed, of modern America’s fixation with the commodification of time. This kind of thinking could lead to changes in the rules of chess. Give knights and bishops more squares to attack, bring some excitement to chess.

34 DanC February 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

Currently in extra innings the home team has a slight advantage, as stated by Tyler, they have more information about what they need to do to win a game i.e. how many runs they need to score in the bottom of the inning.

However having the visting team start with a player at second base in the 10th innning is a much bigger advantage. i.e. a runner on second with no outs scores about 60% of the time.

In general teams are less likely to score runs in the 8th and 9th inning of a close game. Only pitchers piching well or top relief pitchers will be in the game and scoring tends to drop.

The home team would need to do everything possible to avoid going into extra innings or the vistors have a huge advantage in the game.

Why not just go to a shootout like hockey? Most total bases after three hitters wins the game. If you don’t like baseball and you are going to mess with the traditional game, go all the way.

35 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 10:34 am

Are you saying the rule would be that only the visiting team gets the runner on 2nd?

I am reading the linked article now, and I guess it does say “Major League Baseball plans on testing a rule change in the minor leagues this season that automatically would place a runner on second base to start extra innings.” I am assuming this is just poorly phrased and that they mean to start each half of the inning. Otherwise, yeah that does seem like a big (and strange) advantage for the visitors in extra innings.

36 The Other Jim February 9, 2017 at 11:02 am

“Inning” is a flexible word and is often used when “half-inning” is meant. Half-inning would have been more precise here.

They definitely meant that whenever a team comes up to bat, there is already a runner on second base.

37 DanC February 9, 2017 at 11:27 am

Each team starting with a runner at second to start each half-inning makes more sense. What baseball needs is more balls in play. The willingness to strikeout in return for an increased chance at home runs husrt baseball, in my view. More action on the bases more balls in play would help the game. Raise the strikezone above the knee, move the fences back (hard to do), etc

38 PD Shaw February 9, 2017 at 10:34 am

What is likely to happen in this scenario is a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to third and then free swinging hitters will try to hit the ball hard to the outfield, so at the very least the runner at third can tag on a flyball and score a run. The advantage to batting first is that this is pretty easy to manage. Run expectancy when there are zero outs and a man on 2B is 1.189.

At the bottom of the inning, the most likely scenario is going to be down by one run, and the manager will have the choice of trying the same strategy to tie the game or try for a multi-run inning. I tend to think the manager is going to play for 1 run and implement a similar strategy.

It may not be this simple since bunting when it is expected is more difficult, and the bunter should be expected to change if infield positioning favors doing so, and it probably makes no sense for the very best hitters to bunt.

But the main disconnect is that this does nothing to shorten the game. Typically, each side will score a run when there are no outs and a runner on 2B. Runs will increase, but innings won’t decrease. And the increased runs are more likely to be the manufactured variety that may not have as much appeal.

39 Daniel Weber February 9, 2017 at 11:18 am

Typically, each side will score a run when there are no outs and a runner on 2B.

How often does this happen? You gave the expected value, but not the variance.

The typical inning is baseball has neither team scoring. I’m finding the idea of each team scoring just one run much less likely. For the tenth inning, the team could use pinch-hitters, but you run out of those really quickly.

40 PD Shaw February 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I don’t have variance data, these are just averages of total number of runs scored in an inning when a given condition exists (no outs; runner at 2B). When there are no outs and no runners, the average number of runs scored in an inning are 0.555. This data is taken from all innings prior to the bottom of the ninth (which may not have three outs), so it may not reflect the different types of decisionmaking that might be made in the early innings versus late innings in a late game.

When there is a runner on third and one out, the average number of runs scored in that inning is 0.983. So I think the calculation most managers will make in most situations is that a sacrifice bunt will probably sacrifice some upside chance of a multi-run inning, without reducing the ability to score that one run.

(Data taken from The Book by Tom Tango et al.)

41 PD Shaw February 9, 2017 at 1:52 pm

OK, I found some distribution charts in The Book:

With no outs, runner at 2B:
36.7% of the time no runs scored that inning
34.2% of the time one run scored
14.6% of the time two runs scored
7.7% of the time three runs scored
3.8% of the time four runs scored
3.1% of the time five or more runs scored

With one out, runner at 3B:
33.0% of the time no runs scored that inning
48.2% of the time one run scored
10.5% of the time two runs scored
4.9% of the time three runs scored
2.1% of the time four runs scored
1.4% of the time five or more runs scored

The “zero runs” scored outcome is larger than I expected, but it appears that sacrificing a runner to third increases the chance of scoring a run, but reduces the chance of scoring more than one run.

42 PD Shaw February 9, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Sorry for formatting; to simplify

With no outs, runner at 2B: 36.7% of the time no runs scored that inning / 34.2% of the time one run scored / 29.1% of the time more than one run scored.

With one out, runner at 3B: 33.0% of the time no runs scored that inning / 48.2% of the time one run scored / 18.8% of the time more than one run scored.

43 Daniel Weber February 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm

That looks like we would rarely get more than 2 extra innings.

44 Tom Maguire February 9, 2017 at 10:40 am

Re Patrick’s “A biq question is whether the runner on second is going to be the next hitter in the line-up…”.
Yeah, who’s on second? No, Who’s on first. What’s on second …

45 baseball fan 2342 February 9, 2017 at 10:42 am

Who the hell thinks the problem with baseball is A) the fact you have to watch the pitcher throw 4 balls for an intentional walk (and occasionally mess up to glorious results) or B) extra inning games or C) extra inning games where position players pitch. THOSE ARE THE BEST GAMES!!!

If you want to fix the Intentional Walk rule why not ban the catcher from standing up before the pitch on ball 3 or simply give the umpire the ability to penalize a pitcher for intentionally throwing the ball too far away from the strike zone with the intent to walk a batter (instead of say a pitchout). Give batters a better chance of putting the ball in play.

Baseball’s pace problem comes from the delay between two pitches thrown and a general decline in the number of batted balls put in play. Baseball made a genuine improvement on this 2 years ago when they required batters to keep one foot in the batters box.

Another possibility that i think tyler would like is simply to fine pitchers or batters who are found to consistently take more than X seconds to get ready for the pitch and deliver it. That avoids the “clock” penalty problem while also mostly fixing it. While some players will value their extra seconds worth thousands of dollars in fines most will not. This mirrors his suggestion

46 Erick February 9, 2017 at 10:47 am

Yeah, let’s shorten these exciting games. Wouldn’t want to be on the edge of my seat too long.

47 The Other Jim February 9, 2017 at 11:10 am

It’s widely agreed that baseball games — even the standard 9-inning games — are WAY too long. The league has been looking at ways to shorten them for years, but MLB is also plagued by a stubbornness to try anything new. All suggestions thus far are of the “might save two minutes” variety. Out of a game that takes 3+ hours.

This suggestion could easily knock 15-30 minutes (or more) out of the extra inning games, and I certainly applaud their newfound willingness to try new things. But this is a very gimmicky solution, akin to lowering the nets in NBA overtime. Very lame.

I say make them play with only two outfielders, which would actually lead to more exciting plays, and force the manager to decide where to put them.

48 Daniel Weber February 9, 2017 at 11:21 am

Can’t professional hitters easily decide which outfield to put the ball? If the batter can see the outfielders, having two means guaranteed hits, assuming the batter can make contact. At this point, why even have any outfielders?

49 Cliff February 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

No, they cannot

50 Cliff February 9, 2017 at 11:38 am

By the way they wouldn’t leave one field open, they would position the two outfielders to have the best possible coverage of the whole area

51 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 11:26 am

One less player allowed on the field in each succeeding inning. Remaining players can be allocated around the field in whichever way the manager desires.

I’d like to see a similar rule implemented for soccer. I hate penalty kicks (and shootouts in hockey).

52 Jay February 9, 2017 at 11:54 am

This fundamentally changes the game though, teams would have to practice scenarios without a fielder which would mean they’re not practicing something else and the quality of the game declines. I’d much rather the game make changes that speed up the game (most likely between pitch time) or put more balls in play more often that also affect the other 9 innings where the real problem lies.

53 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Fair. I’m not much of a baseball fan to begin with. The closest MLB team is Canadian, I took up lacrosse instead of baseball by junior high, and 162 games is just way too much for me to care about. So I’d need some pretty fundamental changes to bring me into the fold (or a substantial shortening of the season and a team in Buffalo).

54 baseball fan 2342 February 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm

except you have one batter at the plate instead of the whole team on offense. Let’s say you’re in the 12th inning: you have 6 players: one pitcher, one catcher and 4 players for the rest of the field. How does that work? You need someone at/near first base (so batters can’t simply “sac bunt” for a base hit)…so one guy on the left and right side of the infield and one guy in left-center and right-center field? there are going to be a ton of hits.

What if someone gets on base?

With a runner on first you need someone holding the runner on (otherwise he can simply steal second base taking a lead whose only limit is that he can beat the pitcher back to the base…very very easy to do). and you need a fielder covering the middle (if the batter chooses to steal). So now do you leave the entire left side of the infield uncovered or station a third infielder? If the third infielder you only have one outfielder which means good luck getting outs even on routine fly balls. If you hit a ball down the line that gets past the left side guy you’re looking at an inside the park homerun or (if that guy plays back) bunt city down the third base line.

I’m describing a fundimentally different game in the way a 9 on 11 soccer match isn’t.

55 y81 February 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm

I think the decreasing number of players is a great idea. Sort of like what the NHL has done this year, going to 3 on 3 for the OT. They still have some shootouts, but a lot fewer.

56 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 1:22 pm

I hate shootouts so I have been very happy with the change. Still a lot more I’d like to see the NHL change (significantly reduce goalie equipment, shorter season, 3 pts for win/2 pts for OT or SO win/1 pt for OT or SO loss) but it’s a move in the right direction.

57 chuck martel February 9, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Baseball fans don’t complain about the length of games, sports writers do. For them, the game is work, much like mining coal or butchering hogs. Once they’ve eaten as much free food and guzzled as much gratis beer as they can, they’re ready to head for the saloon.

58 WC Varones February 9, 2017 at 11:31 am

MLB idiots don’t understand that baseball is about tradition.

If I want fast-paced nonsense, I’ll watch e-sports.

59 Jay February 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

They’re also a business that’s running up against reduced viewership and attendance and must act, how do you propose they fix it?

60 chuck martel February 10, 2017 at 6:10 am

Yes, they were giving away tickets to Chicago Cubs October games last year. Nobody watched them on television, either.

61 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 11:36 am

The basic idea is just to increase scoring variance so that it is more likely that a game ends in any given inning.

Presumably, before proposing this rule, someone at MLB made some calculations to estimate how much variance it would add, and the expected decrease in the number of extra innings played as a result. However, strategic behavior could change those numbers, so it needs to be tested (plus if no one likes watching it, that’d be bad too).

It would be interesting to know MLB’s current calculations of the expected upshot of the change. Or, if for some reason they didn’t try to estimate it, they should probably start from scratch and actually do that analysis for various potential rule changes to see if there is a better idea.

62 msgkings February 9, 2017 at 12:21 pm

They are going to test it out in the minor leagues like they do with most rule changes. So maybe that will give them some information.

63 Turkey Vulture February 9, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Yeah, I’d like to know what they predict will happen though (even if it’s a naive prediction based on statistics mostly from regular innings). Or at least know that they tried to make an estimate of what would happen, rather than just saying “Hey, this is an idea. Let’s try it.” I want to know what the process is like to get to a proposal like this. It would make it easier to evaluate future proposals.

64 Whatever February 9, 2017 at 11:51 am

Nobody has pointed out that the fielding team also changes their strategies based on the number of runs needed to win the game.

Seems like putting a running out on second to start the inning is going to result in more intentional walks to the home teams best hitter.

65 steveslr February 9, 2017 at 9:37 pm

Under this rule, if the visiting team didn’t score in the top of the 10th inning it would almost automatically issue an intentional walk to the first batter up in the bottom of 10th inning to set up a force play at 3rd, 2nd, or 1st, and a potential double play.

66 Jay February 9, 2017 at 11:52 am

Who really thinks baseball’s “pace problem” is solved by shortening what is arguably the most exciting parts of the game and only rarely occur (relatively) during the season. The problem is obviously the other 9 innings of the game take way too long and the 152 games during a season means any one game makes very little difference, work big to small people.

67 Mike February 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm

It’s about the integrity of the game. And there are 162 in a season. And one loss can make a huge difference in the final weekend series of the regular season.

68 Jay February 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Nobody’s arguing one game can’t make a difference at the END of the season, its the other 130 games that don’t matter and spread the audience’s attention out.

69 Uribe February 9, 2017 at 12:09 pm

The average American 10-year-old understands this (or used to).

This is an embarrassing post by an economist.

70 Tim February 9, 2017 at 12:11 pm

A game in extra innings means the teams are playing that particular game equally well, regardless of who got to bat first. So what’s the problem? Giving the first-batting team a free runner to help break the tie will certainly help break the tie, but that’s about as fair as ending the game with a coin toss.

The recent Superbowl ended with a coin toss that gave one team the ball, and after they scored a touchdown the other team had zero chance to make an offensive play. Unfair, yes, but at least it’s random. That was an extraordinary game for other reasons, and the losing team cannot in good conscience argue they lost because of the coin toss.

71 dearieme February 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm

“British people don’t usually “get” baseball”: oh but we all played it when we were little, when it’s called ’rounders’. But once boys are big enough to play cricket, rounders is played only by girls. But even then it’s not as camp as NFL.

72 Mike February 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Please don’t let the MLB turn into the NFL.

73 chrisare February 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm

What a stupid idea. Why would you look for time savings in the most exciting and least common portion of the game?

74 Brian Donohue February 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Exactly. This is a solution in search of a problem.

I vote that people who don’t care about baseball take their stupidity elsewhere.

75 BC February 9, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Bradbury’s reaction was my reaction. Here are some other rules MLB should consider:

1) To speed up games, every batter starts with a 1-1 count.
2) After a foul ball after two strikes, next foul ball is a strikeout.
3) If a batter is an older guy, or just slow, he doesn’t need to run for himself. Instead, a courtesy runner can line up near home plate and start running after the batter makes contact.
4) To finally bring women into the game, each team will be required to play a minimum of three women on defense. Players don’t have to play defense to bat, but batting order must be arranged boy-girl-boy-girl-etc. Also, no intentionally walking a male batter.
5) Finally, if the first baseman is going to bring a beer onto the field, he must place it in foul territory during play.

76 NeedleFactory February 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm

The proposed rule change will distort statistics.
Example: first batter in the 10th inning singles, the runner on second scores. Is the run earned or unearned?

In “normal” innings, if a runner scores, then (ignoring several details) the run is “earned” if the runner reached base by a walk or a hit; “unearned” if he reached base via a fielding error. The extra-inning runner on second arrived there neither on his own merits nor by a fielding error.

77 chrisare February 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm

The problem baseball has is that it’s lack of contingency on time – unlike nearly every other sport – is so fundamental to it’s identity. Objectively and fairly saving time from something that is time-neutral is challenging.

78 jroberts February 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm

” British people don’t usually “get” baseball ”

But then Tyler’s argument applies to cricket

79 Lex February 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Wow. Just the other day I was thinking how great it would be to watch every extra-inning start with a walk.

80 Brett Champion February 9, 2017 at 6:21 pm

I hate this proposed rule change even more so than I hate most of the other atrocities MLB leadership has foisted upon baseball fans in the last 25 years. If they’re so interested in keeping the game from going 18 innings, why not just end it after nine and call it a tie, or flip a coin to decide the winner.

81 Brent February 9, 2017 at 6:27 pm

You analysis seems right — that it would seem to favor the home team. If they knew they just needed one run they could easily bunt the runner to third and then hit a sac fly to get him home. You’d likely not bunt though if you were the visiting team because it would dramatically reduce the opportunity for a big inning.

In this case giving the home team an advantage in extra innings doesn’t seem so bad in the sport that has the least amount of home field advantage.

82 Mark Bahner February 9, 2017 at 11:44 pm

Ya want speed?

One rock/paper/scissors.

Or for speed and excitement, one rock/paper/scissors/lizard/Spock.

83 Jr February 10, 2017 at 4:14 am

The analysis seems right, the only quibble being that also the pitching team can adapt their tactics to the score. Eg, do they go for the safe out at the cost of conceding a run or do they throw for home plate.

84 Jackson Layers February 12, 2017 at 3:25 am

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85 ben February 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm

I have sometimes wondered why teams batting second in cricket One Day Internationals, in which each team has 50 overs to bat and highest score wins, are not able to convert the information advantage of knowing their target into superior performance. In the 46 year history of ODIs, the team batting second wins almost exactly 50% of the time, so there is no discernable competitive advantage in knowing your target. It is not obvious to me why this is true. I do not know baseball, but I suspect the problem may be more subtle than Tyler is suggesting.

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