I like to think of myself as an open-minded dude. I like to hear and consider both sides of pretty much everything, and am open to all reasonable perspectives. When I land on a firm opinion, I still usually leave open some shade of gray or area of nuance where I could still have my thoughts changed, at least at the margins.
I found that exercise in understanding to be very difficult when it came to that extra-innings-start-with-a-runner-on-second-base rule thingy, however. For those who don’t recall, there were reports and whispers in the offseason that MLB was considering – at some level – a rule that would look to artificially end extra-innings games sooner by starting each half of the inning after the Xth inning with a runner on second base. I hated it.
And then the rule was actually implemented, though not in the big leagues. In the minor leagues. I still hated it, but mostly because I feared it was a trial balloon for implementing the rule in the big leagues, too. I do recognize the value of the rule in the minors, though, without the same need for marathon games and the increased need to protect younger players. But, generally speaking, I still really don’t like it, and I wasn’t sure how it was actually being received in the minor leagues anyway.
Well, now I’ve got to gulp down a whole heaping tablespoon of considering both sides, because the Cubs’ AAA Iowa President and GM Sam Bernabe spoke with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick for a piece on how the rule is working, and … gulp … it seems like he kinda likes it.
“I don’t know that it would ever happen at the big-league level,” Bernabe told Crasnick. “When we first got into it I thought, ‘There’s no way on earth they would ever do this.’ But maybe it’s something they can look at and study and get some sort of fan perspective. What do people think? ‘Here’s how it’s working at the minor league level. Should we try it for a certain series of games?’ That’s purely my opinion. Obviously, it could never be used in a playoff or a World Series situation. But I guess at this point, I would never say never. From what I’ve seen, it has some merit from the fan reaction and a business standpoint. I think it has some legs.”
Bernabe went on to discuss the positive business impact of the rule, and there are other plaudits in the article from other observers (including Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey) on how it’s working. Whether you hate the rule or not, it’s a good read from Crasnick.
So, then, gaining this perspective – that people on the ground in the Cubs’ organization like the way the rule works – am a little more open to this being a good thing for the sport?
… NO! Er, well, I mean, not at the big league level anyway. It seems to me that the best arguments for having this rule in the minor leagues (reduces costs for smaller MiLB franchises, protects young players, shortens games in a more family-focused environment) don’t really apply in the same way at the big league level. Even those who like the rule in the minors seem to concede that it’s hard to see it working the same way in the big leagues.
Thus, I’m now more fine with the rule being in place at the minor league level than I was before getting this added perspective. Thank you for that, Jerry Crasnick and Sam Bernabe. I am also still resolute in my belief that the rule should NOT be brought to the big league level, as I previously discussed here.