The ghost runner rule is nice

Complaining about baseball has develop into a minimum of as a lot of a pastime as watching the sport itself lately. Hearken to a broadcast or a radio present throughout the week or learn on-line and you’ll in a short time encounter all types of critiques, a few of which clearly contradict one another. Baseball is just too gradual. The hitters strikeout an excessive amount of. The pitchers throw too quick. There’s not sufficient scoring. There’s not sufficient dwelling runs. There’s too many dwelling runs. The shift is dangerous. The shift is nice. Video games are too lengthy. The playoff system is damaged. Analytics are ruining the sport. Gamers in the present day are too mushy.

You’d suppose that such complaints would decline when Main League Baseball explores and implements options to a few of the issues that do in reality exist. However the previous few years have confirmed that, for many individuals, complaining appears to be extra enjoyable than not complaining, particularly when you may also use it as a possibility to place your self as a extra clever, extra pure baseball fan than these different folks.

MLB first applied what was initially known as the “automated runner” rule or the “extra-inning rule” in Minor League Baseball in 2018. As soon as it made its approach to the massive leagues within the pandemic-shortened 2020, it grew to become higher referred to as the “ghost runner” rule. Primarily, the rule states {that a} runner begins at second base on each inning of additional innings—so, from the tenth inning and past.

The league particularly applied the ghost runner rule to restrict the size of additional inning video games. It has labored. In 2019, 28% of additional innings video games lasted 12 innings or longer. In 2021, with the rule in place, a tick over 7% of additional innings video games lasted 12 innings or longer. Furthermore, a better share of video games ended within the tenth inning, and importantly, the variety of tremendous lengthy video games has shrunk to only about nothing; in 2019, eight video games lasted 16 innings or longer, however in 2021, just one recreation lasted 16 innings.

Along with the rule’s plain success at doing precisely what it was imagined to do, the gamers like it. The truth is that nobody enjoys marathon video games—gamers and followers alike. Followers don’t come to the sport to see a 3rd string utility participant hitting with the bases empty and two outs within the 14th inning towards the opposite staff’s eighth-best pitcher.

However with the announcement that the ghost runner rule is coming again subsequent yr, followers on Twitter weren’t comfortable.

The ghost runner rule will get baseball followers uniquely fired up in a approach that makes it look like we’re all in some bizarre Pavlovian experiment the place somebody says “ghost runner” and baseball followers drop the whole lot they’re doing to yell about it on-line. However within the latter two tweets, you’ll be able to see a few of the nasty elements of baseball fandom bleed into it: that in the event you just like the ghost runner rule, you merely aren’t educated sufficient to know higher or aren’t a “actual” fan, regardless of the hell that’s.

Actuality runs opposite to those sweeping takes that nobody likes the rule, as you would possibly anticipate. Once more, these most intently concerned with the sport are largely in favor of it—gamers, coaches, media. And a ballot by Seton Corridor College about new guidelines to baseball discovered that actual life opinions of the rule differ wildly from the obvious consensus you discover on Twitter. The ballot discovered that the largest opinion of the rule change was…nicely, no opinion in any respect, with a full 50% off followers displaying no opinion on it in both approach and the opposite half cut up between liking and disliking it. Curiously, amongst what Seton Corridor thought of “avid sports activities followers”, 41% authorized of the rule and solely 34% disapproved of the rule.

Extra broadly, I’ve discovered that those that don’t just like the ghost runner don’t have a powerful argument for why it’s dangerous. They simply don’t prefer it, as a result of custom or as a result of it’s terrible (no clarification given) or as a result of, in contrast to each different rule for each recreation ever, it’s in some way contrived. I assume there’s a good argument that different rule adjustments may enact the identical consequence, or that the ghost runner is ok in idea however its specifics may use some tweaking (IE, runner at first base as a substitute of second, ghost runner implementation beginning within the eleventh inning, and so on.). However these arguments don’t align with the sorts of people who find themselves calling it the “worst rule in all of sports activities,” one thing that’s clearly not correct contemplating that the NFL rulebook merely exists.

As for why the ghost runner rule is nice? It’s easy. Groups nonetheless have 9 innings to win earlier than attending to further innings. It supplies the identical alternative to the away and residential groups whereas nonetheless giving the house groups the basic benefit. It prevents tremendous lengthy video games from taking place. It ratchets up the issue stage for pitchers whereas offering a further tactical wrinkle for managers on each side of the ball. And it makes each plate look for each halves of the inning thrilling from the beginning.

You don’t have to love the ghost runner rule. However to say that it’s some kind of sport-destroying abomination that’s wrecking the sport’s integrity and historical past is melodramatic and, frankly, unfaithful. Baseball remains to be baseball whether or not you’re mad about it or not.

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