By Daniel Wilkins
The baseball world has been shaken up and split on the recent rule changes enacted by the gargoyle of a commissioner that is Rob Manfred. You can’t forget that this is just the calm before the storm, and newer things like a pitch clock might be coming in 2020. While these rule-related talks are going on, Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija is throwing his hat in the ring with his own creative idea:
If the game is tied at the end of the ninth inning, the game ends in a tie. No more extra innings.
While this might seem appealing to someone who shares opinions with Manfred and believes that pace of play is the most important issue in the MLB, it has its fair share of problems right off the bat.
Samardzija argues that “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.” While that may be true for some, I’ll tell you who is willing to go out onto the field and play a few extra innings in order to get a win: Those people are baseball players with their heart and soul embedded into the game that they love, and it’s apparent that Samardzija is a rare exception.
Another issue is how it will add another column to the MLB standings and make the situations possible more like hockey. Instead of a team being 90-72, they can be 80-72-20, which seems less favorable. If you incorporate ties, like what’s being done in Spring Training, it creates a chaos in the standings, and Samardzija didn’t even give an explanation for how the playoffs would work under that rule.
What if his team, the Giants, was so close to winning the NL West, but fell short of the playoffs because they tied more games than others? The Dodgers went 92-71 in real life, but let’s add eight ties to the Dodgers record. That makes their record 88-67-8, which is still pretty good. If your team is less favorable, and possibly more prone to tying games, you can be in deep trouble. If you take the record of the 2016 Giants (87-75), and added 24 ties (3 times more than LA), you come out with a record of 75-63-24. With those reduced wins, they can seriously affect how teams can sneak in and out of playoff contention.
Not only that, but you can’t forget about how bummed out the fans would be if they spent over $100 just to see a game with friends and family, only for it to end in a tie. It’s like going to an NFL game, only to realize that you booked tickets for punting practice. Fans (like myself) love extra innings, and don’t mind staying in the seats for another hour or so, just to see their team prevail. If you need to get home soon, no problem; just drive home.
While it is important for MLB players to express their opinions and have a voice, it’s important for them to be speaking logically and thoughtfully, as opposed to “speaking from the gut”.