PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JULY 24
By Leo Haggerty
JURY IS STILL OUT
Major League Baseball finally started the 2020 regular season today. “The Show” has returned but not as we know it. Here are some of the obvious differences.
The most obvious is the 60-game schedule. Another is the expanded rosters for the beginning of the campaign.
The third one, and that’s the one I want to target, is that even the novice fan will notice is the extra inning rule. If teams are tied at the end of nine innings, from that point forward, each team will start their half of the inning with the last player who made out the inning before on second base. Definitely a mouth full, right?
Well, this creates an entirely new managerial dynamic. Also, it changes whether you “hold the hammer” and are the home team as opposed to the visitors.
If I’m the visiting team, do I bunt the runner over to third and try to play for one run? Do I put in a pinch runner that is faster than the player who is required to go to second base? Do I pinch hit a player who is more adept at bunting or hitting the ball to the right side with a “productive out” that advances the runner to third base? Lot’s to think about here, for sure.
If I’m the home team, the choices almost mirror the home college football coach that is in overtime. If you’re tied, you have more options than if you’re behind. The same now applies to the diamond.
If the home team is tied, the need to score is not immediate. You can be a little more conservative and not throw “caution to the wind” to get someone to home plate. Team could carry on their roster a “designated bunter” just for these circumstances.
That thought process completely changes if the home team is behind by a run. Now the situation is critical. You must score at least once to extend the game.
If the deficit is two or more tallies, the stakes are even higher Teams may carry a designated power hitter for the scenario where they need the “big knock” to keep from losing.
For me, the jury is still out. I’m a baseball purist but I’m willing to look at changes that improve the game like the designated hitter in both league. I hope that one stays more than a year.
With that being said, I want to see how teams handle extra inning situations. Then I’ll decide whether it should be a temporary rule change due to the pandemic or one that needs to be continued.
Well, that my opinion. What’s yours?