I know what I’m about to write is controversial. But, I’m going to do it anyway.
Probably, every single person in this press box right now disagrees. Baseball people all over will lose (even more) respect for me.
But I have to do it. I might as well come right out and tell you because I don’t know any other way.
I like the MiLB extra innings rule. Yeah, the one with the ghost runner. The “tournament softball” rule.
Last season when it was announced, I thought it was an April Fools prank. I thought it was for the lower levels. I clutched my baseball pearls and wrung my hands and made nasty Tweets. Then I made joking tweets and sarcastic blog posts. Oh, the humanity!
But after watching 96 live, professional baseball games last season. In person. And many of them went to extra innings. I learned to kinda like it. I’ve also spoken with pitchers whom I thought would bristle at the gift runner, but almost to a man they appreciated the opportunity to rise to the challenge, and the likelihood that the game would be over sooner and pitchers’ arms wouldn’t get abused.
For me, I liken it to 3-on-3 overtime hockey. No, it’s not real hockey. It’s just not. Neither is fake runners on base who didn’t earn their way there in some way. But, in both instances it forces the action and keeps the fans attention. I’m no more headed to the rest room during three on three sudden death than I am with a runner on second and no outs in the top of 10th–or especially in the bottom of the 10th at home, right?
It’s not real baseball, but it’s fun to watch and I’m all about the fun. I don’t necessarily want it for the big leagues. Tradition and record books and all that. Plus, it tests an organization’s depth to pitch and hit through all those extra innings. Finally, it tests the manager’s ability to keep some bullets in his gun during the game, while still trying to win.
But those are things that we don’t necessarily need to test in the minor leagues. We don’t need to over-tax pitchers who are prospects. We don’t need position pitching and getting hurt (although without getting hurt, it is always compelling). We don’t always have the ready ability to go to the level below and take players for the next night, given travel and development and the tighter schedule.
So there. That’s my case. I reserve the right to make jokes, but I enjoy the action of the extra inning games more than ever now.
Fans are always free to go home at any time, but this just might be a reason to hang out. Extra innings are fun now.
See you at the park,
“Kram’s Korner is a column posted every Wednesday and Friday during the IronPigs season, unless the team is on the road, or there’s something else more fun to do.”