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What’s the Cure for Extra Innings?

Major League Baseball has been facing the same fan retention challenge for the last few years. The older generation of baseball purists may not be entirely included in this group, but everyone is shifting into the age of wanting things done quickly and efficiently. This is due to people not having the “time” to sit down and watch a 3-hour baseball game, even though people seem to have time to binge watch an entire tv series that can take days. So, what do we do to make baseball more viewer friendly and interesting for the fans?

As a former baseball player, I understand the beauty of an extra inning baseball game. It is intense knowing that if we score in the bottom half of the inning the game is over. Everybody loves a walk-off base hit or homerun! It is a great part of baseball, but when it happens in the 17th inning, most people have fallen asleep or stopped watching. How do we change this to make a difference? Let’s go over a few solutions.

There have been a few ideas circulating, like starting with a runner on second in extra innings. Personally, I think that is a terrible idea because it reminds of playing travel ball and high school baseball. It is a juvenile concept and it reminds me too much of the college football overtime. 

Another idea that has started to circulate, thanks to Justin Turner of the Dodgers, is an opportunity to play till the 10th inning and if the game is still tied it will go to a homerun derby. In this homerun derby, three players for each team will have 5 outs each to hit as many homeruns as possible. Could this idea work? Absolutely! It would significantly shorten the games and match the same energy of a classic homerun derby! 

I can already hear the questions coming through the screen; which team’s pitcher gets the loss? The last pitcher of record? Well in this situation, no pitcher gets the loss or the win, it just goes in as a “no decision”. But what about the fun walk off hit or homerun? Well the home team will still have their chance to walk-off by hitting one more homerun than the visiting team. Also, you still have a chance to walk-off in the 9th and 10th innings. I think this could be a great way to add a little bit of fun to the end of the game, as well as end the dreaded 15+ inning game.

The final idea that I haven’t heard as much but contemplated recently is making the extra innings more like a hockey game with sudden death. If a team scores a run, the game is over, but there would need to be a few stipulations. 

Who gets to bat first? For the first time in MLB history, the home team should get to hit first. Despite this change, the 10th inning will be played like a normal 10th inning. Should we add a few stipulations such as the NFL with the field goal rule? Yes! If you score one run in the top half of the 10th inning, the other team has a chance to tie, and if they do not tie, the game is over. Once it is passed the top half of the 10th inning, any run scored ends the game. This gives both teams the opportunity for a walk-off hit! That could add a lot of excitement to the game. 

I would like to open a discussion and hear all of your ideas on how to make the game more exciting and viewer friendly. Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!

Photo credit to AP Photo/Alex Brandon (ESPN)

Eric Bernstein View All

I am a former college baseball player that has a constant love for the game. After I had injuries that left me unable to play anymore I have always wanted to stay in the game. Now I will be able to stay in the game by writing about the sport that I love.

2 thoughts on “What’s the Cure for Extra Innings? Leave a comment

  1. As he usually is about baseball-related things, Turner is right on the money. Turning extra innings into a quasi-Derby also incentivizes fans to stick around for the end of a low-scoring tie game because you’ll at least get to see some fireworks at the end of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the article, Eric!

    A “sudden death” approach to me seems like the most logical solution. In my scenario, a coin would be flipped similar to how NFL overtime is conducted. The visiting team calls the coin flip, and whoever wins gets to decide whether they hit or field first. The hitting team would then get a chance to score like normal – if they do, like you mention, the other team would get a chance to answer – BUT, I’d add in the extra twist of any home run automatically winning the game. It would be a quasi-sudden death if extra innings were conducted like that.

    Another idea on that would be to make any run a game-winning run after the 10th inning in order to speed up the game – so if the visiting team were to score in the top of the 11th, that would be all she wrote.


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