Another league will be deploying some experimental rules this year, and this time it’s deadly serious.
Sudden death home run derby anyway:
The Pioneer League has announced rules it will use for its first year as a Partner League. Instead of extra innings there will be a HR derby to settle ties. Each team can use a designated pinch hitter and a designated pinch runner. pic.twitter.com/0xLnUJ4s1V
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) April 27, 2021
Given the nature of an independent league – even a “partner” league – I’m fine with this kind of extreme gimmick ending for games. Were it being considered as a test or experiment for future big league rules considerations, I don’t think I’d be on board. It would be fun sometimes, but I could see it getting old and feeling even more artificial than the runner-on-second-base rule.
As for the designated pinch hitter and pinch runner spots, I sorta don’t get it. I mean, I understand the rule – they’re saying you could pinch hit or pinch run for a guy, and then that guy can still go back out and keep playing. I just don’t quite get the point. Is it to get more people involved? I suppose yeah, it could help a little on that front with the action and the excitement, but it seems awfully marginal.
The Pioneer League absorbed several of the old affiliated clubs that didn’t have homes in the new minor league system, and MLB agreed to provide some financial and operational support to keep the league going (and to provide mechanisms for players to come to affiliated ball from the Pioneer League). It’s not entirely clear to me if they will participate in experiments the same way the independent Atlantic League has been (including, for this year, moving the mound back and the altered DH rule). That is to say, I really don’t think that’s what these new rules are. Or maybe I’m just hoping not.