The MLB is in a time crunch, always looking to quicken the pace of the game for the fans that cry out that the game is too slow. We’ve seen it this year with the introduction of the intentional walk sign rather than just throwing four pitches outside of the zone. It’s time for something a little more radical which could keep fans invested past the ninth inning, and give a little bit of theatrics to the game. I talked about it a little bit in our podcast this week; a home run derby to decide the winner in extra innings. The original concept came to me from a recent Bleacher Report article that was discussing how to make baseball “cool” again. Some of the concepts were ridiculous and would never fly with the baseball purists looking upon it, but the one concept that was a little out there, but made sense, was the HR derby rule.
Now, in the article, Scott Miller suggests the HR Derby should come right after the 9th inning is over, which I say is a little premature. Doing this would allow managers to abuse the fact that they know they won’t need relievers past the ninth inning, so they could just throw in their closing pitcher in the 9th with no consequences. My idea is to play the 10th and 11th innings with international rules. For those of you who don’t know what those rules are, international rules has a runner start on second base (the last out of the inning prior) at the start of the inning. So essentially, each teams starts with a runner in scoring position, and virtually any base hit into the outfield should score a run.
Now, if that doesn’t do the trick to end the game after the 12th inning, we go to a home run derby. Each team picks one slugger to go up and face the team pitching coach (because we’re not going to have Robinson Cano’s dad on hand for every MLB game) and they have 5 outs to work with to see how many home runs they can hit within that window. Whoever hits more homers, wins the game. Pretty simple. This avoids the 19 inning games where we see opposing bench utility players going to the mound to end a grueling 6 hour game with only a handful of fans still in attendance. And it’s not only the fans who don’t like the 19 inning games, but the players don’t like it either. I couldn’t imagine playing 6 hours of baseball, then having to hop on a plane just an hour afterwards, trying to get some sleep and doing it all over again the next day.
Now, baseball purists don’t like change. That’s why so many rules have stayed in place for so long in the majors, take the DH rule for instance. The National League should’ve conceived the DH rule years ago, but because they haven’t had a DH, they just aren’t willing to change. But hear me out, this HR derby idea may sound extreme, but what makes it any different than a shootout in hockey or soccer? In my opinion, it’s a great way to generate some interest, add some more intensity to the late inning games, and add a little theatrics and fun to America’s game.