Minor League Baseball made a radical rule change this year that places a runner on second base to start the inning once a game reaches extras. It is a misguided effort in baseball’s attempt to speed up the game and figure out a way to relate to those damn millenials who seem to prefer the more up-tempo stylings of basketball and soccer, with their end-to-end action.
There are many problems with this new rule, chiefly that people who stick around to watch extra innings aren’t the ones turning the game off for being slow — they already made it to extras. Not to mention, if a game is in extra innings there’s probably plenty of drama and reason for folks watching to stick around for the end.
An unintended consequence has been what it’s done to some phenomenal pitching performances. In the Braves’ organization, a combined perfect game was recently ruined by the automatic runner on second to lead off the eighth inning, and on Monday night a game between the Tampa Tarpons and Clearwater Threshers (the Yankees and Phillies Class-A advanced squads) saw a Tarpons no-hitter result in a loss because of the automatic runner.
A look at the play-by-play from the game indicates that a pair of fielder’s choices and a catching error from the shortstop allowed Luke Williams to advance from second to third and then third to home over the course of three batters, none of whom recorded a hit.
The automatic runner rule is a hilarious effort on the part of baseball to make the game more exciting, and, to be honest, I hope Major League Baseball adopts it simply to watch fans, players, and managers absolutely meltdown the first time this scenario unfolds in an MLB game.