Would You Be Into a Home Run Derby To Decide Extra Inning Games?

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Would You Be Into a Home Run Derby To Decide Extra Inning Games?

Chicago Cubs

Among our remaining best-case-scenarios for the 2020 season is ramping up with Spring Training II sometime in June, with a regular season start sometime in early July. But even if we are so lucky to get going in full by then, we’re looking at a shortened season, with fewer off-days, more double-headers, and precious time to spare.

Obviously, in that reality, we’ll be forced to accept less-than-normal baseball conditions, potentially including an entirely different regular and postseason format. Unfortunately, with so many games likely crammed into so few calendar days, players will be facing an extremely unfamiliar workload, which could lead to an artificial uptick in injuries. But one player has come up with a way to mitigate against some of that risk.

But I don’t think you’ll like it – at least, not at first:

Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers proposes one extra inning of baseball (the 10th) in the event of a tie after regulation (9.0 innings), before moving to a home run derby to decide the winner. So basically, you get 10.0 full innings of baseball to sort things out before the derby would commence.

As you can imagine, fans were extremely resistant to the idea, but specifics aside, I understand where Turner’s coming from:

Turner continued addressing his critics, with logic and success (click on the tweet/image to read the rest of his explanation):

To be clear, Turner is suggesting such a rule change for only the 2020 season, and whether or not this particular solution is the answer, I agree there will have to be something. And if you’ll allow me to advocate for him briefly, I have some thoughts to share.

To start, if you’re against any sort of change for this season only, well, I don’t actually know how to reach you other than a genuine, but firm: I’m sorry. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Nobody wants things to change, but SOMETHING must, whether it’s this particular idea or not, if you want to watch baseball before 2021.

But if you’re against only this idea (or something similar), I have an important point: This is never going to be baseball’s long-term solution to the extra-inning/length-of-game “problem.” And that reduces the stakes for the slippery slope argument quite a bit. For example, if MLB is going to do anything to limit extra innings in the future (i.e. during a regular season after 2020), it’s probably going to be that dumb “start a runner on second base” rule, which they’ve already tested out in other leagues. So in reality, I’d be more fearful of the league attempting to institute that particular rule – as opposed to something a little sillier like a HR Derby – because of the potential impact on 2021 and beyond – which, again, I don’t want.

So if you’re against long-term extra-inning change, you should probably be pro short-term-only HR-Derby style change to address this problem.

Turner has more, which adds another wrinkle:

In the event that this gets passed (extremely low, for what it’s worth), a coach would throw to his own team in the HR Derby, which is funny because now there’s another skill position on a team’s “roster” that matters quite a bit. You might be quick to shake your head in disagreement, but certain coaches are not only better at throwing batting practice, they can also be better at knowing and executing on certain locations/velocities for different hitters.

Maybe the Cubs can even bring back someone awesome – Carlos Zambrano? Kerry Wood? – to be the designated HR Derby pitching coach. For one season only – 100 games or fewer – wouldn’t that be fun?

Ultimately, with so few games on the schedule and the presence of at least one regular extra-inning anyway, this may not have as much of a negative impact on the game as some may fear. And it’s hardly unprecedented in professional sports (think about hockey). So … how do we feel about it?



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami