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MLB’s runner on second base in extra innings rule is history

All I can say is, “Good riddance.”

David Bote and Tyler O’Neill sit around second base and discuss the runner on second in extra innings rule. (Not really. But they could have!)
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

And here I was worried that once the Cubs season ended, I wouldn’t have enough material some days. Instead, I have this big baseball news to pass along to you.

Major League Baseball changed many rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them were designed so players and staff would spend less time in crowded dugouts and clubhouses. Seven-inning games in doubleheaders shortened time spent at the ballpark on those days.

Another rule change in 2020 that was kept in 2021 was having a runner placed on second base for every inning of extra-inning games. This rule did shorten games — in the two years, just one game was longer than 13 innings, a 16-inning affair between the Dodgers and Padres this past August 25.

This rule wasn’t used in the 2020 postseason and won’t be used in this year’s postseason either. And, per Maury Brown, it’s gone for good:

The runner was derisively titled the “Manfred man,” and though it did occasionally produce some interesting baseball, in general most people didn’t care for it because it went against this basic rule of the game — that every baserunner must come from something a batter did, whether a hit, walk, hit by pitch, catcher interference or reaching base on a fielding error.

Given the fact that prior to 2020, games that went 13 innings or longer were, on average about 1.5 percent of all games, this was a solution in search of a problem. That 1.5 percent comes out to about one game per year per team, on average. Granted that long games like that do tax bullpens, but a better solution might be to allow any team that plays 13 innings or longer to add an extra reliever for its next game without a corresponding roster move.

Of the 222 games the Cubs played in 2020 and 2021, 17 went to extra innings and the Cubs went 9-8. (That includes one seven-inning game that went nine innings and one that went 10; both of those are considered “extra-inning” games, since they were scheduled for seven. The Cubs won the former and lost the latter.)

Personally, I’m very happy this rule is dead and buried and beginning with this year’s Wild Card Games, we’ll be back to seeing “normal” baseball played in all innings, not just innings one through nine.


MLB’s runner on second base in extra innings rule...

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Loved it! They should have kept it!
    (289 votes)
  • 73%
    Hated it! Good riddance!
    (1350 votes)
  • 10%
    Didn’t care either way
    (199 votes)
1838 votes total Vote Now