© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dunlap: Time For Artificial Extra Innings In MLB

June 03, 2019 - 1:35 pm

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I watched on Saturday. I watched just about all of it. Missed just a few of the 5 hours, 23 minutes of continuous baseball that started at 4:09 p.m. and traveled into the first-day-of-June darkness. 

Yeah, I’m guilty. 

I was riveted. 

I was thoroughly engrossed and captivated by the back and forth the Pirates and Brewers produced in those 13 innings at PNC Park as over 500 pitches were thrown, 24 men were left on base, 32 hits were had and 14 pitchers took to the hill. Every available arm out of the Pirates bullpen was used except for Richard Rodriguez --- and by keeping him in the bullpen the game most likely lasted longer. 

I watched as Joe Musgrove jumped in the box as a pinch hitter; watched as Alex McRae dropped down a sacrifice and also saw the same guy --- McRae --- throw 61 pitches in a relief role. 

I saw as the crowd kept dwindling and dwindling and people shuttled off into the Saturday night while still others abandoned their seats in upper portions of PNC Park and nestled into some pricier places. 

I swear there was one point at about 8:45 p.m. where you could see Clint Hurdle’s wheels turning as he was asking himself what position player would be his best option to pitch --- if it needed to come to that. And it almost did. 

Oh, the romanticism of a 12-10, 13-inning regular season game that was finally decided for good when Orlando Arcia hammered a no-doubter to give the Brewers a bit of a distance. 

Yeah, I watched. Like I said, almost all of it. And I was really entertained. 

Just one problem. I’m not a manager. I’m not a general manager. I’m not a relief pitcher. I’m not a catcher. I’m not a nuthin’ within the game. 

It’s funny to me, however, that baseball is the major sport with the most regular season games but it is more than willing to allow a regular-season game to stretch and stretch to the point where it impacts multiple games. 

That is to say, the NHL instituted the three-skater model followed by the shootout. The NFL has that kinda-sorta sudden death thing and then, if that doesn’t work, the game simply ends in a tie. 

Theoretically, an NBA game could last forever but their regular season is 82 games and the number of active players per game can be anywhere between eight and 15 --- far fewer than baseball. 

But baseball, a sports that plays 162 games and just about every day … heck yeah, feel free! Go ahead and use up all your guys, play five hours and then some and then just figure out the next day (when you have no available pitchers) when you get there! Seems counterintuitive to me. 

So I arrive here: Isn’t Major League Baseball --- however enjoyable an extra-inning game is --- really going against conventional thinking by allowing games to work deep into inning after inning and potentially deplete bullpens not just for that game but have an impact that could last no fewer than a few days? Logic says that’s the case. 

Look, I’m generally a traditionalist and not one of these “change all the rules” kind of guys, but in this case I think it should be given serious consideration. After one full extra inning is played, I say you start each half of the 11thinning (and every half-inning thereafter) with a runner on second base. 

Do the traditional people hate it? Sure. 

Will I hear a lot of racket about strategy being forsaken and the such? Certainly.

But you know what, this would tend to shorten games and also, at least in my estimation, save on bullpen arms especially in this era of specialization and where more and more pitchers throw fewer and fewer pitches out of the pen. 

It will also add instant drama once that second extra inning hits. 

Like I said, I know most people will hate it. Me? I’m all for it. It makes a lot of sense in a number of ways. ​


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