Can You Tie in Baseball?

can you tie in baseball

Major League Baseball games are nine innings of play to decide a winner. If the game is in a tie after nine innings, the game moves into extra innings to figure out a victor. While rare, MLB games can technically end in a tie, which may surprise fans. However, there is a specific reason why games would end in a tie during baseball, which this post will go into more detail.

 

So, did baseball games end in ties more often before there were lights at stadiums? What are the reasons a game would end in a tie game today? When was the last tie game in Major League Baseball?

 

Here is the complete breakdown of ties in baseball.

 

Early History of Baseball Tie Games

early history of baseball tie games

Baseball matches would occur until it got too dark to see in the sport’s early days. Once the game was too dark to see, the game would end in a tie or resume on a different day. Back in the day, ballparks did not have stadium lights, which meant games couldn’t continue when it got too dark. Things began to change in 1935 with the first MLB night game with the Cincinnati Reds.

 

From 1935 to 1988, more and more baseball stadiums began adding lights, which allowed games to continue when the weather got dark. With the addition of stadium lights, tie games became rare.

 

For the longest time, the Chicago Cubs playing as a home team at Wrigley Field, were known for day baseball games. They were known for day baseball games because Wrigley Field became the last MLB stadium to install stadium lights in 1988. There were many reasons why Wrigley did not want to add stadium lights, but there was pressure put on the club to add them. For example, if they were in the World Series, the games would not occur at Wrigley since they did not have lights, which prompted them to install them.

 

What Happens if the Game is in a Tie after 9 Innings?

what happens if the game is in a tie after 9 innings

If a baseball game is in a tie after nine innings, the game moves into extra innings. There is no time limit in extra-inning games, which is different from what you would find in soccer. Extra innings work where the away team gets to bat and has three outs to work with at the top of the inning. After that, the home team comes up to bat and has three outs to either tie or win the game. If there is still a tie after the 10th inning, then the game moves to the 11th inning and so on until there is a winner.

 

Extra innings work the same way during the regular season and postseason. However, as of 2022, the regular season rule changes did not remove the ghost runner at second base to start an extra-inning during the regular season. However, there is speculation that MLB will remove this extra innings rule in 2023. There is no ghost runner at second base in the postseason.

 

An extra-innings game will end if the visiting team has more runs than the home team or vice-versa. That will count as a walk-off win if the home team has more runs than the away team in extra innings.

 

When would an MLB Game End in a Tie?

when would an mlb game end in a tie

Today, a regular-season baseball game can end in a tie for a specific reason.

 

  1. The match is at the end of the year, and both won’t play against each other again via the schedule.
  2. It won’t make a difference to either team via the playoff structure. That means that both teams won’t make the playoffs, or one (or both) of the teams won the home-field advantage, and it doesn’t matter if they win or lose that game. They will still be the top seed in the playoffs no matter what happens.

 

For example, let’s pretend it is the last week of the season and both teams are mathematically out of the postseason. If they had no more games against each other for the rest of the year, and the game got called in the rain delay in the 6th inning, the game could end in a tie. The game ends in a tie because it is meaningless to both teams and is at the end of the year, so it doesn’t make sense to schedule a new game to resume play.

 

Has an All-Star Game Ended in a Tie?

In 2002, the All-Star game famously ended in a tie because the teams were running out of pitchers. Since the All-Star game was supposed to be a game for the fans and for it to be fun, there was no reason to force players to play longer than what was necessary.

 

When Was the Last Regular Season MLB Tie Game?

The most recent MLB tie game took place on September 29, 2016. The season’s final match was between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. During the 6th inning, during a 1-1 tie, the game went into a rain delay and eventually was canceled.

 

This game between the two clubs was canceled and not made up for a few reasons.

 

  1. The Chicago Cubs already had the best record in the National League with 101 wins, and no other team would be able to catch them in the standings.
  2. The Pittsburgh Pirates were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with their regular-season record.

 

Can Ties Occur in the MLB Playoffs?

can ties occur in the mlb playoffs

Ties can’t occur in the MLB Playoffs. Unlike the regular season, these games must end with one team winning to move onto the next round or leave via elimination. It will resume the next day if a match is in a tie and gets postponed via lousy weather.

 

Should Baseball Games End in a Tie?

should baseball games end in a tie

Fans of soccer are familiar with games ending in a tie, so why not bring this to baseball? Here are the pros and cons of getting tie games into regular-season games.

 

Pros

One way to introduce ties in games is to eliminate extra innings. Like in MLS, where ties can occur if both teams have the same number of goals after 90 minutes during the regular season, baseball could do the same. Both teams in baseball would receive a .5 win, which would then help them in the standings. Instead of one team winning and one team losing, you could grant both teams a .5 a point and move on to the next game.

 

Another benefit to having games end in a tie is to protect pitchers and hitters from playing too long. More pitchers and hitters need to play if a game goes into extra innings. If there were a cap after the ninth inning, you would eliminate players from playing too long and risking injury.

 

Cons

Baseball fans love to see a winner during games. Some fans wouldn’t like paying money to witness the Atlanta Braves vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers tie. While soccer fans are familiar with this concept, baseball fans would not be.

 

Another con of removing extra innings is that it would change the sport too much for traditional fans. Even though baseball has made many changes to its format over the years, removing extra innings and giving a .5 point via a win would lead to fans complaining.

 

Conclusion: Can you Tie in Baseball?

In summary, tying in Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball games is rare. Ties only occur if the season’s schedule wouldn’t matter if they would play again or not. Otherwise, a rain delay that causes a tie after the 5th inning will continue the next day during the regular season.

 

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