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‘Sudden-death baseball’ is going to be tried in the Frontier League in 2022

... and I don’t hate the idea.

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The Frontier League is an independent baseball minor league with teams in the Midwest and Northeast. Two of their clubs are based in the Chicago area (Joliet and Schaumburg).

The league is going to experiment in 2022 with what they are calling “sudden-death baseball”:

You know, I... don’t hate this idea. Here’s a bit more:

Field managers will meet with umpires with the home manager choosing offense or defense. For the team on offense, the player on the lineup card immediately preceding the batter due up will start on first base. The defensive team will have three outs to prevent the offense from scoring. If the team on offense scores they will win the game, while if the defensive team retires the side without scoring a run, they will win. As with the ITB runner, if the runner placed on first base scores, the run will be unearned.

(“ITB” stands for “international tie breaker,” that’s another name for the “runner on second” rule.)

I’ve always been one of those people who thinks baseball games should go as long as needed to produce a winner. I grant that fatigue is a much bigger factor in modern baseball than it used to be and as such, I’ve been in favor of a system where if a game goes 13 or more innings, each of the teams could add a reliever for their next game without making another roster move.

I have, though, been against the “runner-on-second” in extra innings rule that’s been in effect in Major League Baseball for the last two seasons, and also in affiliated minor leagues. I understand the reasoning for it in the affiliated minors.

But this Frontier League rule? Intriguing. For those of you who like baseball strategy, there’s quite a bit of it here. Does the home team hit or pitch? I suppose it depends on what part of the lineup is due up and who you’ve got available to pitch.

The rule as stated here would play “normal” baseball for the 10th inning and then this would be in force for an 11th inning. It would end all extra-inning games quickly.

I would make two tweaks for it if it ever came to MLB:

  • No runner on first, and
  • Use it only after the 12th inning. Before that, normal baseball.

This would end all MLB games no later than the 13th inning.

As I said, I don’t completely hate this idea. What say you?


The Frontier League’s "sudden-death baseball" rule...

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Hate it! Play normal baseball until there’s a winner
    (177 votes)
  • 15%
    Love it! Put this idea to work in MLB
    (52 votes)
  • 26%
    I like it, but tweak it as proposed in the article
    (93 votes)
  • 6%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (24 votes)
346 votes total Vote Now