The new rule involving a runner on second base in extra innings is an idea everyone needs to get onboard with.
Traditionalists be damned: Starting extra innings with a runner on second base is an awesome idea.
Sure, it goes against the romanticization of how someone is watching a game exactly the same way it was played 100 years ago. But things change, people evolve, and baseball is long overdue to arrive in the 21st Century. How can you not be at the edge of your seat when there is a runner on second base to start the inning?
It’s as close to sudden death as baseball is allowed to get this side of a walk-off.
Any purists railing against the idea of a runner on second are looking at it all wrong. Instead of thinking it’s the worst thing to happen to the sport, see it as a revival of small ball.
Think about all of the capital-S Strategy.
As Scott Thompson of SNY points out, we might even see pitchers intentionally walk the leadoff batter to get a force anywhere. And think about all of the glorious bunts.
Sarcasm aside, the addition of a runner on second could be boosted by the universal DH, something that all of a sudden changes strategy when approaching certain parts of a lineup knowing a runner will be on more often than not when a slugger comes to the plate. Rather than needing to win it all with a home run, Mike Trout suddenly becomes almost as effective by hitting a deep sacrifice fly.
And speaking of strategy, teams could use a pinch runner with regular rules. Leaning back into the return of small ball this rule presents, the increased value of speed on the bases is sure to give players who otherwise might be overlooked a chance to prove their worth on a 25-man roster. Christian Guzman is somewhere training for his return to baseball as we speak.
Let’s not sleep on the added bonus that this rule could prevent us from late nights full of long games that result in tired mornings at work.
Baseball has changed rules before and it will change them in the future. Few sports are as resistant to change as baseball seems to be, but few times have alterations led to a downtick in the quality of the game. Sure, it’ll be awkward at first but so was the introduction of the designated hitter or the end of the Dead Ball era. This new extra innings rule might not lead to a boon in popularity but it certainly won’t hurt and it won’t be long before it’s just part of the DNA of the game.