A recent 18-inning baseball game between the Yankees and Cubs has generated angst in the baseball world. Some folks have suggested that if games are tied after 12 innings, the game should go into the record books as a tie and the teams should just get on with their seasons. As you can imagine the baseball historians and the purists want no part of such change. If this were the Middle Ages, the purists would be having the “tie-game advocates” charged with heresy thereby subjecting them to drawing and quartering.
I am not offended by this new suggestion nor am I offended in any way by the potential for an 18-inning baseball game. Having said that, there have been some arguments put forth regarding this proposed change that leave me cold:
- If baseball needs to increase pace of play, then it should also do everything possible to avoid games that will take 5 hours to complete. This is nonsense; pace of play and duration of games are two different things. Anyone who uses this argument in a serious fashion is a dumbass.
- Eighteen inning games put an unnecessary stress on bullpens and pitching staffs; moreover, the final portions of the game feature players playing out of position making the outcome subject to “unnatural conditions”. I will not even grace the “unnatural conditions” argument with commentary; the “unnecessary stress on pitching staffs” argument is a tad annoying. In times where players in various sports are using improved nutrition and improved training/conditioning techniques, pitchers in baseball are turning into fragile snowflakes. Teams used to carry 9 pitchers and 16 position players; today they carry as many as 13 pitchers and only 12 position players.
[Aside: Back in the 70s, Nolan Ryan once struck out 19 batters in a game where he pitched all 13 innings and he threw 235 pitches. He then took his normal rest and his normal spot in the rotation. In 2017, you have a better chance of seeing a unicorn frolicking with a yeti than seeing any pitcher do that.]
Here is another thing I find confusing in this discussion.
- If it is OK to have a game go into the record books as a tie after 12 innings, why not just record it as a tie after 9 innings?
I know that there are fans who viscerally oppose the idea of a tie game in any sport. I am not one of those fans, but I understand their desire to see a winner and a loser in any contest. What frosts my cupcakes is when a sport chooses to determine a winner and a loser by changing the game in the final showdown. I do not like – even a little bit – the way these entities break ties:
- The NHL: I have no problem with an overtime period or the way things are handled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I think the idea of the shoot-out via alternating penalty shots is an abomination.
- FIFA World Cup: I have no problem with tie games in soccer. I detest the idea of determining a winner via penalty kicks.
I can tolerate the NFL’s tie-breaking system even though I would change it if I could. I would prefer that they allow for ties during the regular season and play a full extra quarter (or a second full extra quarter) in playoff games to determine the winner. But that’s just me. At least the NFL is still playing actual football in its overtime periods.
The tie-breaker in tennis is a hybrid here. They play the tie-breakers using the same rules of play for tennis but they change the scoring system.
Baseball, basketball and golf are the purest sports here. They play extra time/extra innings/extra holes using exactly the same rules until there is a winner at the end of the extra time/extra innings/extra holes. Frankly, I do not see any compelling reason to modify the way these sports handle things.
According to this report from Deadspin.com, the Boston Red Sox banned for life a fan who made a racist remark about a Kenyan woman who had just finished singing the National Anthem. This remark was overheard by another fan who reported this to an usher who removed the utterer of the racial slur from Fenway Park. The next day, the Red Sox announced that he was banned for life.
This is not a First Amendment issue; the Boston Red Sox imposed this ban not the Congress and the Executive Branch of the US Government. There is, however, something to think about here.
- Assuming for a moment that it is critically important for the Red Sox to enforce this ban, can they do so? Assume that Joe Flabeetz is the guy banned for life and he lives next door to Sam Glotz. Now suppose Glotz buys a ticket to a Red Sox game and then resells it to Joe Flabeetz who goes to Fenway Park to see the game. Is every ticket taker at every gate going to be on the lookout for Joe Flabeetz and how are they going to do that?
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times pertaining to another recent event in Fenway Park:
“Last Sunday’s Cubs-Red Sox game included what appeared to be a failed marriage proposal on the Fenway Park videoboard.
“But the foiled groom-to-be, undeterred, is already hatching plans to line up Colin Kaepernick to take a knee for him.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………