UPDATE: The extra innings runner at second base is indeed back. As part of a deal between the players and the league, per the NY Post, extra innings will once again begin with a runner at second base. Rosters will expand to 28 for April. Double-headers are back to nine innings. The rest of the original post follows.
All I can say is that I was deeply skeptical of this rule when MLB announced that it was going to start tinkering with it in the minor leagues. And when it arrived in the big leagues because of the pandemic season, I was even more annoyed.
… and then I saw it in action. Not only did extra innings not play out the same way every time (like I thought it would), but having a totally different look to start an inning was enjoyable to me. The intrigue was immediately turned on in a way that did not strike me as too gimmicky or hokey, even though I thought it would. Teams had 9 full innings to settle the game. They didn’t, so now things are a little different. That’s basically every other sport except baseball. And I wound up really liking it.
Also, there’s the element where it doesn’t destroy a team’s bullpen and risk injury with 15+ inning marathon games.
But then the rule went away in the new CBA. Rules changes of any kind (aside from the designated hitter) were pushed to the side in favor of the financial stuff (and players have generally been resistant to any kinds of rules changes, necessary or otherwise, though they have reportedly been OK with this one). Fine. I didn’t like it, but I was prepared to live with it.
Just posted. From me and @MattGelb
MLB, players’ union discussing restoring extra-inning ghost-runner rule https://t.co/xk2MjO8ssa
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 14, 2022
A couple of caveats there. It would be part of this year’s health and safety protocols, so it isn’t necessarily a permanent change. It also might not start in the 10th inning this time around.
But I think it’s a good idea, and apparently the players do, too. Now I will #LogOff so as not to get destroyed in the comments.
(Oh, also? We gotta stop calling it a “ghost runner.” The guy is clearly alive. He’s standing right there!)