MILB announces new rule changes. Including runner placement in extras

soxhop411

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball today announced rule and procedure changes aimed at reducing the length of extra innings games and the number of mound visits during a game throughout Minor League Baseball. In addition, the Triple-A and Double-A levels will use a 15-second pitch clock with no runners on base.

The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, aim to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra innings and the issues created by extra innings games, including, but not limited to, shortages of pitchers in the days to follow, the use of position players as pitchers and the transferring of players between affiliates due to pitching shortages caused by extra innings games.

"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest," said Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner. "Player safety has been an area of growing concern for our partners at the Major League Baseball level, and the impact that lengthy extra innings games has on pitchers, position players and an entire organization was something that needed to be addressed
At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player). By way of example, if the number five hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number four player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.

For purposes of calculating earned runs under Rule 9.16, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule shall be deemed to be a runner who has reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.
https://www.milb.com/milb/news/minor-league-baseball-announces-pace-of-play-regulations-for-2018/c-268683294

You can see the rest of the changes at the link above.
 

DrewDawg

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Dumb.

And they shouldn't allow ties either. How many 15 and 16 inning games are there really? This isn't a problem that needs a stupid solution.
 

Gdiguy

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I guess I can kind of agree with this for the minor leagues (ties suck as a fan going to minor league game, but I also don't necessarily agree with having poorly paid minor league relievers having to blow out arms pitching 5 innings or starters coming in on short rest in a 18 inning game, so this kind of is a weird in-between), but I'm completely against this at the major league level.
 

Saints Rest

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Minor league baseball games should just end in a tie.

The other rule changes seem worth exploring in terms of experiments that could find their way to the majors, but the reason behind the extra-inning rules, though valid, could simply be solved by ties. Who cares if some single-A game on a Wednesday night in May ends in a tie?
 

lexrageorge

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Why don't they build a hockey rink in the bullpen? Then they could do a NHL-style shootout instead. Makes about as much sense.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Honestly, if you're that bummed about your team going to extra innings or if you have kids that can't stay up or if you just have something else better to do, just go home. It's fine. Go home and find out what happened tomorrow. Or if you live in an area where the game is televised, watch it on TV.

Don't change the game because a handful of contests go late and someone is complaining about "THE CHILDREN!" Yeah, baseball doesn't have a clock. That's one of the reasons why it's a great game. Theoretically, there could be a game that runs 500 hours. And that's cool. BTW, this announcement was made on PI Day too!

I love baseball, I really do. And I think that there are certainly some rules needed to speed up the game a bit; but fuck, they are just constantly shooting themselves in the feet with these ideas. I'd hate for this to infest MLB.
 

czar

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No, the baseball equivalent would be a home run derby.
Honestly, a home run derby after a 9-inning tie would be way preferable to pretending to keep playing the game except by a totally different set of rules.

But hey, my softball beer league was ahead of the curve on something! (we've had this runner starts on 2nd rule in extras for a while now).
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Considering that minor league games occasionally get shortened to scheduled 7 inning affairs (particularly for double headers) and the ultimate W/L results aren't all that important in the long run (do people really count AA and AAA championships?), I don't really have a problem with a gimmick to try to shorten super long extra inning games.

Would hate to see the rule progress to the highest level though.
 

moondog80

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Honestly, a home run derby after a 9-inning tie would be way preferable to pretending to keep playing the game except by a totally different set of rules.
It’s not a totally different set of rules. It’s pretty much every rule exactly the same, except for one thing that happens at the start of the inning, and a couple of minor things to eliminate dead time. This seems like a far less radical departure from the rules than what college football does. I’d be OK if MLB did this starting in say, the 13th inning.
 

pedro1918

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As a former MiLB employee, I can attest to the fact that most of the crowd could not tell you the score 10 seconds after the game anyway. I have no issue with MiLB ties. I'd prefer it over this stunt.

I worked a 22 inning game in 1997. There were probably less than 20 paying fans still there at the end of the game. That was a loooong day at the park.

EDIT: My memory fails me. It was 1998 and it was only 21 innings!
 
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plucy

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If the score remains tied after the first extra inning, then the runner should start at third in the second extra inning. If that results in a continuing tie game after one inning, then every subsequent inning starts with the bases loaded. The runners on first and second can be any player not in the lineup, including players previously removed from the game.
 

moondog80

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Considering that minor league games occasionally get shortened to scheduled 7 inning affairs (particularly for double headers) and the ultimate W/L results aren't all that important in the long run (do people really count AA and AAA championships?), I don't really have a problem with a gimmick to try to shorten super long extra inning games.

Would hate to see the rule progress to the highest level though.
Like it or not, they are not doing this because they care about minor league baseball. This is a trial balloon to see if they can implement it in the majors.
 

The Gray Eagle

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The good news: the Pawsox will forever hold the record for the longest game.

The bad news: this stupid gimmick will be added to the major leagues in a few years. Just wait, MLB will be like "the rule was successful in the minors and fans loved it, trust us!" Ugh.

There are a lot of more sensible rule changes they could make to minor league games to make sure extra innings doesn't go on too long. But they will try this moronic one instead because Manfred wants to put it in place in the majors as soon as possible, and as Moondog said above, this is the trial balloon.

If this really was about preventing injuries to minor league pitchers they could just call games ties after say 11 or 12 innings. That would ensure that no team has to have its pitchers ever throw 16 or 18 or more innings. This stupid gimmick doesn't even do that. It will reduce those games, but there will occasionally be games where teams stay tied for inning after inning.

This rule is going to look even stupider when that happens.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Craig Calcatarra (spell?) brought up a good point on Twitter, the only thing that this does is that now managers will attempt to bunt the lead runner to third, the opposing manager will then walk the next guy and the pitcher will attempt to get a double play.

HOW EXCITING!
 

Cuzittt

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Fyi... this is an expansion of the rule. It was already in place for the complex leagues (DSL, Arizona Rookie and GCL) last season.

I wrote a piece last year for the Com and the early early indications from the DSL were not that encouraging... games still often went multiple extra innings. But... I would need to do another dig to see if that changed as the season went on.
 

Ale Xander

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Spring training games can end in a tie. Why not go say 12 innings (minors) max and then have a tie if still tied?
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

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As a former MiLB employee, I can attest to the fact that most of the crowd could not tell you the score 10 seconds after the game anyway. I have no issue with MiLB ties. I'd prefer it over this stunt.

I worked a 22 inning game in 1997. There were probably less than 20 paying fans still there at the end of the game. That was a loooong day at the park.

EDIT: My memory fails me. It was 1998 and it was only 21 innings!
I've spent 21 innings at a minor league park, but it was spread out over 2 games. The first game of a double-header went 16 innings, and we left after the 5th inning of game #2, because it was a blowout and I didn't want to keep my two nephews out until 1:00am, but we had fun… if it was just me, I would have stayed for 23 total innings. I've been to one other 16 inning minor league game that was a miserably cold and damp opening night game (I've probably gone to 150 minor league games over the past 15 years, way more than I get to MLB parks). Those are the only two minor league games I even remember lasting uncomfortably long.

I just don't see the point… they don't need to shorten minor league game times. It usually requires extra innings for them to go more than 3 hours, and the ability to shuttle players around from different levels makes it easy to avoid pitcher overuse (especially now that most teams have franchises at different levels within a couple hours drive of each other). It *could* be a trial balloon for the majors, but we all know that's never going to happen. MLB hasn't even adopted the simple, logical, non-controversial pitch clock. I'd be OK with some rule change after maybe 12 innings, but not after 9.

*
 

DrewDawg

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Be fun when it’s implemented in the majors and then some closer goes to arbitration and team points out his blown saves and/or losses.
 

moondog80

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Spring training games can end in a tie. Why not go say 12 innings (minors) max and then have a tie if still tied?
Because just like the purpose of minor league teams isn't to win ballgames, the idea here isn't to stop minors games from going so long. It's to see if this would work in the majors.
 

Joe Sixpack

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Statistically would this even be expected to shorten the average number of extra innings?

Both teams would still have the same expected runs to start the inning. I guess maybe the variance would be higher?
 

moondog80

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Craig Calcatarra (spell?) brought up a good point on Twitter, the only thing that this does is that now managers will attempt to bunt the lead runner to third, the opposing manager will then walk the next guy and the pitcher will attempt to get a double play.

HOW EXCITING!
Putting aside how you get there, what baseball fan doesn’t find 1st and 3rd with one out in an extra inning tie game exciting?
 
Dec 23, 2008
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Didn't Manfred float this blasphemy last year? Is it me, or is he hellbent on ruining baseball so he can cater to people that don't even like it? Yay blernsball.

 

steveluck7

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Pat Light not impressed

If we are starting a runner on second in extra innings in the MiLB, then those runs better not be earned. I’ll be damned if my ERA goes up because people don’t have more than a 5 second attention span.
 

moondog80

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Pat Light not impressed

If we are starting a runner on second in extra innings in the MiLB, then those runs better not be earned. I’ll be damned if my ERA goes up because people don’t have more than a 5 second attention span.

As mentioned above, it would be considered an unearned run.

That said, I'm sure AL pitchers were just as worried about what would happen when they added the DH, which was a much more fundamental change IMO.
 

RoyHobbs

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The DH was certainly a fundamental change in terms of "who plays" but this rule seems to be anathema to everything about baseball, a sport where all action unfolds on-field and as a result of player actions. Placing a runner is like a deus ex machina kind of situation where an invisible actor, rather than a series of player-created events, dictates the course of the game. It's really artificial...
 

moondog80

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The DH was certainly a fundamental change in terms of "who plays" but this rule seems to be anathema to everything about baseball, a sport where all action unfolds on-field and as a result of player actions. Placing a runner is like a deus ex machina kind of situation where an invisible actor, rather than a series of player-created events, dictates the course of the game. It's really artificial...
But only 7% of games go into extra innings. If they do something like have this starting in the 12th inning, that number goes down even more. OTOH, every game has the DH come to bat at least three times, usually more.

The best analogy to me is college football OT, where the teams both start with an artificially enhanced chance to score. In fact, college football is even more radical -- isn't the chance of scoring on 1st and 10 from the 25 greater than 2nd base and no outs?
 

RoyHobbs

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I like your college football analogy...it was one that came to mind as precisely the kind of arbitrary "plot point" that has eluded baseball until now. I guess it's an example of the meta stuff (e.g. pitch clocks) that purists (word meant neutrally) have a problem with.
 

Joe Sixpack

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Statistically would this even be expected to shorten the average number of extra innings?

Both teams would still have the same expected runs to start the inning. I guess maybe the variance would be higher?
Answering my own question - I don't know the math that was done to back this up but I found the following:

According to our math, the rule change would mean that the chances of an inning ending in a tie (where the team at bat in the bottom half of the inning would score the same amount of runs as the team that batted in the top half of the inning) would go from around 40% to closer to 30%. That 10-percentage-point difference might not seem like a big deal, but it cuts in half the chances of a game lasting more than 12 innings, while the chances of a 13-inning game are cut to a third.
https://qz.com/907103/major-league-baseball-is-testing-a-rule-to-start-extra-innings-with-a-runner-on-second/
 

LoweTek

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Jim Kaat was on the radio broadcast with Castiglione yesterday. Kaat was a notoriously fast worker and spoke of nine inning games over in 1:39. He said they don't need a pitch clock, they need a hitter's clock. He specifically mentioned David Ortiz and how his routine would have him taking 10-15 seconds after every pitch: step one foot out, spit on the gloves, clap, step back in, adjust, etc.

He probably has a point.

In this runner on 2B scenario, if you're the visiting team, wouldn't you always walk the first hitter to create a force at all bases? In the event of a subsequent sacrifice attempt the defense has a better chance at more than one out among other advantages.

I agree it's a bad idea on it's face though.

I could live with both a pitcher's and hitter's clock as well as limiting time between innings and fewer warmup pitches.

The mound visit thing I think, will return very little game time reduction for a lot hand-wringing.