REPORT: The MLB Rule About a Free Baserunner in Extra Innings Is Being Made PERMANENT

As Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested last week, Major League Baseball is indeed sticking with the rule that extra innings will start with a baserunner on second base.

Jesse Rogers today reports that the Competition Committee voted unanimously to make the rule permanent: “In all regular-season extra-inning games, a runner will be placed on second base to begin the 10th inning, and in every subsequent extra inning after that, until a winner is determined.”

Note the carveout there for “regular-season,” which suggests the postseason will still not be employing this rule.

I’m fine with it in both instances. In the regular season, the risk of marathon games that go 12 or 13+ innings and absolutely torch a pitching staff is just not worth it, especially now that teams are limited to just eight pitchers in their bullpen.

*Original post follows*

Because it came amid a flurry of pandemic-related rules changes, and because it had some shelf life beyond the pandemic-impacted seasons, you could be forgiven for assuming that the rule about a free runner on second base to start extra innings was already locked into place. But, strictly speaking, it is not.

Unlike the other rules changes kicking in for 2023, the rule about starting extra innings with a runner on second base hasn’t actually been voted into place for this season. Yet.

“The clubs discussed the permanence of that rule. It’s got to go back to the on-field committee,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said of the rule this week, per ESPN. “Clubs have gotten used to the extra-innings rule. I think it’s generally well-liked by players. I don’t bet on anything, but if you were going to make a bet, it think it’s a pretty good bet it’s going to continue.”

There is time for the rule to be formalized by the necessary committee, as Spring Training games basically never go to extra innings – ties are what’s up. So whether the rule is in place for the spring or not, it really doesn’t matter.

Manfred tends not to make proclamations like this unless he knows there is an overwhelming likelihood that he’s right, so you can expect that the rule is not going away.

Also: it is not a “ghost runner.” Stop calling it a ghost runner. That is when you’re playing in the backyard and you don’t have enough people, so you IMAGINE a runner as if he’s at a certain base. You know, there but not really there. Like a ghost. The free extra-innings baserunner is LITERALLY THERE. NOT A GHOST. NEITHER IS IT SPOOKY.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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