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Rob Manfred, don’t ever think about taking games like Game 3 away

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Friday night’s World Series game was an instant classic.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Let me preface all this by saying that I don’t think even Rob Manfred will want to mess up the beauty of extra-inning baseball by instituting the system that’s now in place in the minor leagues for extra-inning games (starting every inning with a runner on second base).

But if he has even the most fleeting thought about doing so, Game 3 of the 2018 World Series ought to disabuse him of that notion.

And yes, I stayed up to watch every inning, every one of the seven hours and 20 minutes of it, until Max Muncy sent a walkoff homer into the left-field seats at Dodger Stadium at 12:30 a.m. local time.

That game had everything you could possibly love about baseball. Magnificent pitching by a starting pitcher. Magnificent relief pitching, up to that home run, by a guy who was supposed to start Game 4, but instead threw the second-most pitches of anyone in the game as a reliever. In doing so, Nathan Eovaldi posted the longest relief appearance in a World Series game since Game 4 in 1977, when a Dodgers pitcher (Rick Rhoden) threw seven relief innings.

You have no doubt heard all the records this game broke — longest postseason game by innings and time, the use of 23 players by each team, etc. But did you know that Game 3, at seven hours, 20 minutes, was the third-longest game by time of any major-league game ever played?

The Mets and Giants played a 7:23 game May 31, 1964 — the second game of a doubleheader, of all things. And the Brewers and White Sox played a game in 8:06 on May 8, 1984 — actually, on May 8 and 9, because the game was suspended due to a league curfew then in effect at 1 a.m. May 8 and was completed May 9. That one, too, was won by a walkoff homer, hit by Harold Baines.

Friday night? You had all kinds of drama, second-guessing, bad defensive play, great defensive play, a near-walkoff homer three innings before the actual walkoff homer hit by the same player who eventually ended the game.

Should Dave Roberts have left Walker Buehler in to bat for himself in the seventh inning with two out and a runner on first, even though he had thrown a season-high 108 pitches? He was dealing. Maybe Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t hit the game-tying home run off Buehler, like he did off Kenley Jansen. I get why Roberts lifted Buehler then, but leaving him in to at least start the eighth would have been a defensible choice.

Cody Bellinger committed a TOOTBLAN in the ninth inning; maybe the Dodgers win then if that doesn’t happen. On the other hand, then Bellinger did this in the 10th [VIDEO].

Bad defense by the Dodgers put the Red Sox ahead in the top of the 13th.

Bad defense by the Red Sox allowed the Dodgers to tie the game in the bottom of the 13th.

In the 15th, Kenta Maeda allowed the first two Red Sox to reach, then made this excellent play on a bunt attempt [VIDEO].

That seemed to energize Maeda, who then struck out the next five hitters he faced.

Muncy nearly won the game in the bottom of the 15th with a long fly to right that went a few feet foul.

And then he did win the game with this homer [VIDEO] on a 3-2 count leading off the 18th.

Fun facts:

A couple more, from me: This was the first 18-inning game in the major leagues in 2018. The longest game by innings in the 2018 regular season was one we are all familiar with: the Cubs’ 17-inning loss to the Marlins March 30 in Miami. There were great relief appearances in that game, too, by Eddie Butler of the Cubs and Jarlin Garcia of the Marlins.

And: The last player to hit a walkoff home run in a World Series game before Max Muncy did it in Game 3 was David Freese, in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Muncy and Freese are now Dodger teammates.

If the Red Sox had won Game 3, they’re up three games to none and are almost certainly 2018 World Series champions. But now, the Dodgers have trimmed that deficit to one game and made Boston’s pitching choices for Game 4 difficult. Do they start Chris Sale on short rest? Do they go with Eduardo Rodriguez, who pitched in Game 3 but threw only six pitches? Do they try Drew Pomeranz, who hasn’t pitched in a game in four weeks?

And it’s not like the Dodgers have many better pitching choices. It seems likely that Rich Hill, who last started nine days ago in Game 6 of the NLCS, will get the call. But as of the time of this post, both starters for World Series Game 3 were listed as “TBD.”

Maybe the Dodgers can come back and win this World Series. If nothing else, they have made a World Series that was kind of dull and predictable over its first two games a Fall Classic to be remembered forever. These are the kinds of things that make baseball the great game it is.

So Rob — if you even have the germ of a thought of putting that minor-league extra-inning procedure in place in big-league games, don’t. Just don’t. Games like this don’t happen very often, but when they do, they bring baseball to center stage on the national scene. Long after I’m gone, long after Rob Manfred is gone, people will be talking about Game 3 of the 2018 World Series.