Why MLB Games Should Get Rid of Extra Innings

Why MLB Games Should Get Rid of Extra Innings

Last updated on May 17th, 2023 at 10:20 am

With the ghost runner being part of MLB games in extra innings during the 2023 season (and beyond), I have a better way to fix this controversial decision. Removing extra innings and moving to three points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero for a loss would change the landscape entirely. Removing extra innings will speed up games, make regular season games matter, and so much more.


Here is my complete breakdown of why eliminating extra-inning games would dramatically help baseball during the regular season.


As a note, these opinions come from my thoughts as a baseball fan my entire life.


The Current MLB Extra Inning Solution

The Current MLB Extra Inning Solution

Major League Baseball games in 2022 took over three hours to complete. Games back in 2000 were over 2.5 hours, but from 2016- 2022, they took about three hours. While there are many reasons why games are taking longer, one of those reasons is when games go into extra innings, which MLB is addressing with their current rules.


There are new rules in 2023 around extra innings to help speed up how long games take to complete. The new law states that there is an automatic ghost runner on second base to start the extra inning, hoping it will conclude the game faster since they are in scoring position.


However, the feelings are mixed as if this is the best way to handle extra innings and speed up the game’s conclusion.


What I Suggest for MLB Extra Innings

what i suggest for mlb extra innings

I suggest removing all extra-inning games in Minor League and Major League Baseball during the regular season. Baseball fans might object to it initially, but extra innings that go into the 14th inning when position players enter the match to pitch is not fun, nor should it be celebrated when a team has the automatic runner on the second base and scores.


Here is a deeper dive into why removing extra innings makes sense.


Why is a Point System Better than a Win-Loss Standing Record?

Why is a Point System Better than a Win-Loss Standing Record

Major League Soccer, the English Premier League, La Liga, and other top soccer leagues around the globe have a points system for the standings. Three points go to a win, one to a draw or tie, and the loss goes in as a zero. MLB, with their 162 games during the regular season, put the value of a win as one point and a loss at zero, which means losing a game to win a series is the goal since you end up with a record of around 100 wins during the season, which makes you make the playoffs and generally have a first-round bye.


The point system of three points for a win and one for a loss would incentivize teams to win or at least try and tie during a game since there is more value than one point for a win. For example, some teams might play their B roster on a Sunday game before traveling to give their starting players some rest before getting on the road. They won the first two games, so if they lose with their B roster during game three, they still won the series. Remember, winning 2 out of every three games will give a team around 100 wins during the season, which means some games they can punt don’t matter.


Playing your B roster wouldn’t be a smart decision with the new point system I’m recommending because you must actively try to win or at least tie. By playing your B roster, you are giving your opponent a chance at three points to gain in the standings, which will change them quickly since they are no longer worth one point a win.


An Example of How Some Games are Not Competitive

An Example of How Some Games are Not Competitive

Let’s pretend the Atlanta Braves play the Milwaukee Brewers during a July regular season game. The Brewers are down by eight runs by the sixth inning, so they start benching their starting players to rest them for the next match the next day. Along with that, they might even keep a relief pitcher out to work mop up, which means their goal is to throw multiple innings and save other pitchers from throwing, even if they are giving up more runs as they pitch.


If you are a baseball fan at this matchup between the Braves and Brewers, the experience of watching this could be better. One team is okay with the loss because it helps them save their position players and some relief pitchers for the next day’s game. The Brewers, in this example, feel they have already lost this game, so setting up their roster for tomorrow is a better decision. After all, a loss only gives the other team one point in the standings, so there is no incentive to try and tie or win the game if you want to rest your players.


The point system of three for a win, one for a tie, and zero for a loss with the elimination of extra innings have teams try for all nine innings of play since there is more value in each game.


Regular Season Soccer Games Don’t Use Overtime

Regular Season Soccer Games Don't Use Overtime

One giant complaint from baseball fans is that games should never end in a tie. However, ties are part of the regular season in soccer since they use a point system in the standings, and fans are okay with that. Some ties feel like wins for a team, while others feel like they gave up a chance for three points by allowing a late equalizer goal to occur that makes a tie, which can be soul-crushing. If baseball had ties, the nine innings would feel like a time clock, which games don’t have, making every inning important.


Let’s say there is a great pitchers matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets one day in May. It is the seventh inning, and the game is still zero to zero. Fans are intensely interested in this game because three points are up for grabs. There is a feeling in the ballpark that we need to score because we can get three points in the standings from this matchup. There are no extra innings to fall back on if the home team does not score. It comes down to this moment between the two teams, making a regular season game like the playoffs.


Removes the Controversial Extra Innings Rule in 2023

Removes the Controversial Extra Innings Rule in 2023

The ghost runner rule by Rob Manfred for the 2023 season has mixed reviews. Some fans like the ghost runner rule, while others hate it. With the new ghost runner rule, which I don’t like at all, I would rather see games end in nine innings.


No fan or team should celebrate a walk-off single to win a game if the automatic runner were already on second base to start the inning. It feels cheap and doesn’t feel like a win, just an experiment to end games faster.


Creates More “Must-Watch” Moments in Baseball

Creates More Must-Watch Moments in Baseball

Baseball doesn’t have those “must watch” moments during a regular season game, except for a no-hitter, perfect game, or a player chasing the home run record, which is all rare. These instances are rare, so most regular-season games don’t have people checking in to see a must-watch moment, unlike other sports like NBA, MLS, NHL, or NFL regular season games.


By eliminating the extra innings rule, you create an automatic end to a game, which would incentivize people to tune in on the TV (or streaming service) to see what happens in the ninth inning.


For example, the New York Yankees might be in the bottom of the ninth tied, so you get an alert to watch this inning play out on your phone or tv. Since there will be no extra innings if the Yankees don’t score a run, they will win, lose, or tie the game. Especially if the game is in a tie, you know you only have three outs to win since you can’t fall back on extra innings, making this inning a must-watch moment if you are a fan of the Yankees because there is no more safety net of extra innings.


It puts Extra Innings into the Playoffs Only

It puts Extra Innings into the Playoffs Only

The regular season in Major League Baseball is 162 games. I recommend removing extra innings from the regular season. However, extra innings should come back for the postseason and World Series because each game needs a winner.


Bringing extra innings to the postseason gives greater importance to how these games matter since there needs to be a winner. Having extra innings in the playoffs is similar to how knock-out soccer games go into extra time and a penalty shootout if a winner can’t be determined after a set amount of time.


Arguments Against Removing Extra Innings

Arguments Against Removing Extra Innings

One common argument about removing extra innings is that it has never been done before. Baseball fans will say it is radical since I’m suggesting removing it and putting in a point system instead. Anything new, especially with baseball, will immediately be met with opposition.


Another argument against removing extra innings is that it can impact stats for players. For example, MLB history books count hits and home runs in extra innings as a player’s total career stats. Baseball purists will automatically reject the idea of dismantling extra inning because it will impact the record books since there will be fewer chances for some players to get hits and home runs compared to others in the history books who had extra innings to help pad their stats.


Finally, the loudest argument of removing extra innings is that draws and ties are horrible in sports. I will break this argument down in its section since there is a lot I can say here.


Nobody Wants to Watch a Baseball Game End in a Tie Argument

Nobody Wants to Watch a Baseball Game End in a Tie Argument

A tie in baseball would completely change the intensity in a good way of all nine innings of play. For example, let’s say you are at a baseball game, and the game is in a tie in the top of the 9th inning. Your team, the Boston Red Sox, is pitching against the Baltimore Orioles, and you are on your feet, cheering on the team to keep the score as a tie. The Boston Red Sox gave up zero runs in the top of the 9th, so now we enter the bottom of the ninth.


If there were no extra innings to fall back on, the Red Sox would have to win it in the ninth inning to get those three points. That means you will be cheering loud during the ninth inning, like you would in a postseason game, to score that run to win the game and get three points. A tie, in this case, will feel like a defeat, whereas the tie for the Orioles will feel like a win as they were able to hold off the Red Sox from winning.


Meanwhile, let’s flip this scenario and say the Red Sox are up two runs in the top of the ninth inning. The Orioles hit a 2-run homerun to tie the game in the ninth, and then they don’t allow the Red Sox to score in the bottom of the 9th inning. The game ends in a tie, but it feels like a win for the Orioles because they returned and tied it at the end. Conversely, for the Boston Red Sox, the feeling that they had the lead in the ninth hurts because they had the chance to get three points in the standings with the win.


Quick Bullet Point Cheat Sheet for Why Removing MLB Extra Innings is a Good Idea

Quick Bullet Point Cheat Sheet for Why Removing MLB Extra Innings is a Good Idea

  • Speeds up the conclusion of a regular season game
  • It doesn’t force teams to overuse their bullpen since there will only be nine innings of play
  • It makes every inning, especially the later ones, more intense
  • Introduces a point system for the standings instead of a win-loss metric that is in current use
  • Rewards teams for tying the game, especially if they do so late in the game
  • Removes the controversy over the new rule changes of extra innings in 2023 completely
  • It stops teams from punting games


Conclusion: Why MLB Should Get Rid of Extra Innings

In summary, MLB should eradicate extra-inning games in the regular season. Especially with the current automatic runner to start on second base during the 2023 season, extra innings feel gimmicky now. Having a runner start in scoring position is something that has mixed reviews in general. While games might end faster with this rule change, it doesn’t feel like a win.


Instead, removing extra innings during the regular season will fundamentally change the game for the better. Now teams are incentivized to win or at least tie a game. Teams don’t have to worry about wearing out their bullpen since there will only be nine innings of play. Also, games will feel more intense since there are no extra innings to fall back on. Finally, games will end faster, which is what MLB is trying to do.


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