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Few will like the resolution of MLB extra-inning games this year

Call it “Arena Baseball” or what you will, it’s likely to be very unpopular.

Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

I remember a basketball coach from my days preferring that sport to others. He had a tendency to ride officials quite often. At a certain point in his trying to sway the calls to his direction, he would stomp his right foot. It didn't persuade the officials very well, but at least he was doing something to try to get a call. Supporting Arena Baseball for the 2020 season only seems as useful as a foot stomp to an official.

If this season gets going, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base in each half of the inning. Minor league baseball has done that the last two years, and there seems a split in opinion on its benefit. For people who like bunts and intentional walks, it's kinda cool. For people who consider granting a base runner second base just because, it's been less popular.

One thing should remain in your mind as you consider Arena Baseball as a useful option in 2020. Rob Manfred lobbied to have the rule added to minor league baseball in 2018. It returned in 2019. The continuation wasn't guaranteed, but enough people that have far more sway in baseball rules than I do liked it. Some people that thought they'd hate it enjoyed it. What's tough to argue is that, once added, it probably will have staying power. It has in minor league ball. Stomping your feet over Arena Baseball rules won't get them to go away

If Arena Baseball arriving equates to Arena Baseball staying (unless a better option to limit innings is introduced), having a better alternative seems rather important, especially if owners and executives aren't fans of extra-inning games. (Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps owners and executives love calling up players from Triple-A to emergency cover in instances where relievers have been summoned 14 or 15 times over two days. Or, owners less interested in the minor expense might be livid at the teams more willing to execute the Triple-A shuffle.)

It shouldn't boil to fans who like, or don't dislike, extra-inning games to find an acceptable alternative. However, Commissioner Manfred has no qualms selling shares of history for the possibility of fewer five hour-plus games. He doesn't like them, and his bully pulpit has more heft behind it than fans of the game.

Arena Baseball gets most games over in two extra innings, and does so in a fashion that Manfred is willing to sign off on. The absurd ideas he's rolled with and gotten legitimized haven't helped me like the game more. Arena Baseball won't either. I'll usually turn from an extra inning minor league game to another in the pipeline, as I'm more likely to learn something about players (on either side of the competition) in the third or seventh innings than the 10th or 11th, and learning through straight-up competition is why I tune in. Maybe you'll enjoy the new rules. I haven't and I tried.

The default will be Arena Baseball. Fortunately, with minor league ball, I might have four other games on my plate. I'd jump to pretty much any level of competition to avoid Arena Baseball rules. If only one game interests you, and you don't like the new, shiny changes, too bad. Maybe we can think of something better afterward. Or pound your foot on the ground. Maybe it will sway Commissioner Manfred.


The runner-on-second extra-inning rule...

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Love it!
    (16 votes)
  • 76%
    Hate it!
    (181 votes)
  • 16%
    Don’t care either way
    (39 votes)
236 votes total Vote Now