Major League Baseball will soon be experimenting with a new concept - one aimed at doing away with those long, extra inning games or at least shortening them. Baseball will soon be putting a runner on second base to start the tenth inning of a tie game, hoping that will give one of the two teams an advantage in scoring the go-ahead run. I can already hear the baseball purists crying foul. "Leave the game alone," they say or "Baseball is fine just like it is."
Baseball is a wonderful game. It is still as pure as it was when Abner Doubleday invented it more than 150 years ago. Oh it's changed some don't get me wrong. Perhaps the biggest change is the designated hitter rule which has been in play now for more than thirty years......but only in the American League.
The DH was put in effect to add more offense to games. In other words to make baseball fun and exciting again, and a little more high scoring. The only problem was the fact that the National League has never accepted the designated hitter. For all this time the two leagues have never gotten together and accepted a rule that, in my humble opinion, has made the game better.
That's what I'm afraid could happen with the extra inning rule or whatever Baseball decides to call it. It is much the same as the International Tiebreaker rule that is in effect in women's fast pitch softball. If a game is tied after seven innings or after a regulation game should have been completed, to start the eighth inning you put the player who made the last out in the previous inning on second base. In high school softball, the tiebreaker doesn't go into effect until the top of the tenth inning in some states. Regardless, that one rule has cut down on some of the ultra-long games that went into the 15th or 16th innings, or longer.
It's time for Baseball to adopt a similar rule. One that will cut down on the number of innings Major League players have to play. A rule that will keep fans in the seats rather than leaving in the late innings. They cut beer sales off at the end of the seventh inning at most big league parks now, and in the hottest part of the summer, I can't imagine having to struggle through six or seven more innings without the added luxury of buying a luke-warm $10 beer at a big league ball park.
Major League Baseball needs the new extra inning rule. I support it 100 percent because I have suffered through enough fifteen inning games or longer. Sure, I enjoy the "free baseball" that comes with an extra inning contest but when inning after inning goes by without a go-ahead or a winning score my seat becomes much more uncomfortable. Whether it's at a ball park or watching at home in the comfort of my man cave, after ten innings or so it's time to move on to something else.
While I'm on the subject of baseball rule changes, I also encourage Major League Baseball to either accept the Designated Hitter in both leagues or do away with it. That may become much more prudent to settle that issue before embarking on another big change. After all, think of the fans. It's still their game.
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Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.