Friday night, the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants were locked into a pitchers duel. Jacob deGrom, one of the game’s best pitchers, was his typical self striking out ten batters over seven scoreless innings. Opposing deGrom was Tyler Beede for the Giants who was just as good — lasting one inning longer striking out only five but kept the Mets scoreless into the ninth inning. Old friend of the White Sox, Luis Avilan, pitched a scoreless ninth for the Mets, and very popular trade target Will Smith matched with a swift 1-2-3 inning. There was no score after nine innings.
What if the game ended then?
Well, we would have missed out on how Pablo Sandoval delivered the game-winning hit.
Never. Stop. Running. ? pic.twitter.com/kaUQ5PhSZ0— MLB (@MLB) July 20, 2019
Yes, it’s a bit crazy to suggest that Major League Baseball got rid of extra innings and started to hand out ties. I’m for one in favor of an absolute outcome. One team wins, the other side loses. However, I was a bit intrigued when ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested that baseball get rid of extra innings during the regular season on last Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. Obviously, extra innings would be needed to determine postseason games.
There are two benefits in removing extra innings from the regular season. For a sport that is always worried about pace and how long games take removing extra innings would prevent a four-hour affair during the regular season. Olney suggestion came at a time when the Red Sox and Dodgers game lasted five hours and forty minutes. I love baseball, but that’s way too damn long for a regular-season game.
Another is extra innings can be quite taxing on pitchers. Back to the Red Sox and Dodgers game, Boston used eight pitchers and only had one more reliever left in the bullpen. That messes with rest schedules, and as we know well in baseball today if pitchers arms suffer from overuse, injuries are soon to follow.
The counter-argument to continue having extra innings is the ole “That’s the way things have always been done.” Ties would be weird in baseball because other than All-Star games; we don’t see them in major leagues. If we didn’t have extra innings, the White Sox would not have one of their most famous wins in franchise history when Hall-of-Famer Harold Baines hit the walk-off home run to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in 25 innings on May 8, 1984.
It’s odd when an NFL game ends in a tie, but we don’t see them anymore in NCAA. Even hockey has moved on from having ties and instead awards points for teams that reach overtime. Where we do see ties is in the world’s most-watched sport, soccer/football. Whether Americans want to admit it, the sport is beginning to see a rise in television ratings, especially the Premiership. NBC Sports has been faring well with Saturday morning broadcasts showcasing games featuring the world’s most famous clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. Many times, even marquee matches end after 90+ minutes with both clubs walking off in a tie both receiving one point in the standings.
What if baseball had a similar standings format? Every win was worth three points, every tie after nine innings equaled one point, and of course, losses equaled zero points. Well as of July 19, this is how the standings would look in MLB.
Well, this changes things.
Houston currently has a comfortable 5.5 game lead ahead of Oakland, but that might be because of each team’s performance in extra innings. The Astros are 8-1 in extra innings while the Athletics are 2-7. Remove extra innings from baseball, and suddenly the two teams would be tied for the AL West lead.
Minnesota Twins fans are already biting their fingernails watching the Cleveland Indians reduce their lead in the standings to just three games. Moving to a points format, and that distance would be closer as Cleveland would only need two wins to move by Minnesota.
Cleveland would be out of the postseason because they are one point behind Tampa Bay for the last spot in the Wild Card race. Oh, and it would be Detroit as the front runner for the first pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and not Baltimore.
After the Giants win over the Mets, they are just two games back of St. Louis and Philadelphia in the Wild Card standings. They are 8-2 in extra innings this season. Move to a points format and the Giants are not that close being 18 points behind Philadelphia for the last postseason spot. That would help Farhan Zaidi’s decision to sell more comfortable moving Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith.
Speaking of St. Louis, they would receive quite a drop in the standings moving to a points format as they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of their 6-3 extra innings record. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers would have a 27-point lead for home-field advantage through the postseason.
Would the fans prefer a move to the points format instead of straight wins and losses? Using the very unscientific method of Twitter polling, it doesn’t appear they are:
(Future post idea poll)— Josh Nelson (@soxmachine_josh) July 16, 2019
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball this past weekend shared an idea of eliminating extra innings and have ties. This would set up a points system standings that’s used in NHL and MLS.
Would you be in favor of using points instead of W/L to determine standings?
How about revising recent history to help change people’s minds? Let’s look at the last five seasons and how postseason appearances would have switched to a points format.
|Seed||AL||NL||AL Points||NL Points|
|4||New York||Chicago||New York||Chicago|
Instead of playing Game 163, the Colorado Rockies would have won the NL West outright by two points and would have hosted the Atlanta Braves in the Divisional round. A more preferred route than having to go to Los Angeles, Chicago, and Milwaukee in three straight days. Also, a Dodgers vs. Cubs one-game playoff at Wrigley Field would get excellent TV ratings.
|Seed||AL||NL||AL Points||NL Points|
|1||Cleveland||Los Angeles||Cleveland||Los Angeles|
Boston won the AL East by two games over New York as they were 15-3 in extra innings. Moving to a points format, the Yankees would have won the East quite easily beating the Red Sox by 17 points. Minnesota would have tied Boston in points standings with 252 points.
|Seed||AL||NL||AL Points||NL Points|
|3||Boston||Los Angeles||Boston||Los Angeles|
|4||Toronto||New York||Toronto||St. Louis|
|5||Baltimore||San Francisco||Baltimore||New York|
St. Louis Cardinals finished one game back of the San Francisco Giants for the last Wild Card spot. In 2016, the Giants played 18 extra-inning games winning 11 of them, and changing those games to ties would have dropped them out of the postseason. St. Louis would not only make the postseason, but they would have leaped by the New York Mets to host the one-game playoff. Us fans would have missed out on Conor Gillespie’s heroics, though.
|1||Kansas City||St. Louis||Kansas City||St. Louis|
|2||Toronto||Los Angeles||Toronto||Los Angeles|
|3||Texas||New York||Texas||New York|
|4||New York||Pittsburgh||New York||Pittsburgh|
Mike Trout is on his way to becoming the best player of his generation, and maybe for all ages, but he has only played in the postseason once. Moving to a points format, the Angels would have made the postseason again in 2015 instead of missing out by a game.
|1||Los Angeles||Washington||Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|3||Detroit||St. Louis||Detroit/KC||St. Louis|
In 2014, Detroit won the AL Central by one game over the Kansas City Royals. In a points format, the two teams would have tied 264 points each setting up a Game 163 for the division crown. The winner would have moved on to face Baltimore, while the loser wouldn’t be facing Oakland.
The A’s earned the last postseason spot edging the Mariners by one game. In that season, Oakland played in 21 extra-inning games winning 13 of them. By moving those games into ties, the Mariners would have taken the last postseason spot by 13 points, and snapping their postseason drought in 14 seasons instead of watching it still carried out for the foreseeable future.
Maybe I can convince fans in Seattle, Anaheim, St. Louis and Oakland to move into a points format, but I highly doubt baseball would do something this drastic by removing extra innings in favor of ties.
One thing I know the league office does prefer is changing how extra innings are played. Are you ready for a runner on second base starting the 10th inning? The minor leagues have been using this format for the last two seasons.
There are not many fans who are in favor of starting extras with a man on second. Would they prefer tie games instead?
A follow up:— Josh Nelson (@soxmachine_josh) July 16, 2019
Which situation would you rather prefer:
– A tie after nine innings?
– Or, Extra Innings begin with a runner on second (like the minor leagues)?
I guess not.