Every year, fewer people are attending and watching baseball games. There was about a 7% attendance drop rate, a loss of 5.2 million fans, between 2015 and 2019. Author Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post also brought up in his article how nearly half of the teams, in the 2019 season, noticed a decline in attendance compared to the 2018 season. These declines are associated with the length of baseball games nowadays. Since 2016, the average 9-inning baseball game in the majors takes at least 3 hours to complete. From 2007 to 2019, about 1-2 million fewer fans went to the ballpark to have their peanuts and crackerjacks root for the home team. However, with the new rules that were introduced during the 2020 season that is now in place for the 2021 season, the MLB hopes to see an improvement in attendance at all ballparks across the nation.
Going Through Changes
For over a decade fewer people have been showing up to the ballparks. This can be due to the fact that professional baseball games these days just take up too much time. An exciting moment in baseball doesn’t occur as often as basketball, hockey, or football. So to spice things up, the league decided to adopt some of the rules that were in place during the 2020 season into the current and ongoing season.
In the 2020 shortened season, the MLB allowed for the first time in history to allow the National League to use the DH spot. As the DH in the NL wasn’t renewed in 2021, the league added these next 2 rules for 2020 and 2021. One being where if a game went to extra innings, each inning, starting at the top of the 10th to the end of the game, would start with a runner at second base. Finally, all pitchers must face a minimum of 3 batters.
Many fans of the game loved the idea of a universal DH in 2020 and having all pitchers, specifically relievers, face at least 3 batters each. But when it comes to the runner starting at second base, a lot of fans haven’t liked this new addition to baseball. From the league’s perspective, having a runner at second base helps solve the extra innings issue by having the game come to an end quicker than in past years. As for the fans, including me, most find it a disadvantage to the home team since the away team has the chance to take the lead first with a man at 2nd with no outs to start the 10th inning. So let’s look at 2 ways to solve this complication.
Man At 2nd Or Man At Home
After almost a full year of seeing the rule of having a runner at 2nd base each extra inning, I’ve had mixed feelings. Yes, it’s great in order to speed up the game and allow each team to score more likely quickly. However, I really find it unfortunate for the home team. For instance, say the team at home makes a great comeback within the last few innings and they head to extra innings tied up. All of a sudden, the away team comes up first with a man at 2nd with no outs and they end up scoring many runs. I feel like this rule should have a minor change to it. I think instead of just starting each extra inning with this rule, one of the managers will be given 2 choices.
Runner At 2nd With An Out
This portion is taken from the NFL, if the game is still tied after 9 innings, both managers come to meet at home plate with the chief umpire. There, a coin flip will occur where the away team’s manager makes the call to decide how the rest of the game shall go. Whoever wins the toss gets to choose 1 of 2 options: start a man at 2nd base with 1 out or hold a home run derby. By having both teams possibly start each inning with an out and a man at second, each player will have to be more strategic with their ABs, bringing more drama to extra innings and baseball. As for the home run derby, this has been an idea by fans for many years. It should be worth noting that this idea has been implemented into the Pioneer League.
Sending Them Home Happy
A league of its own on the west coast of America, the Pioneer League announced in April 2021 that they would solve their extra innings issue with a home run derby. In this derby, each team would send out a player to take five pitches. Whoever hits more home runs from their five pitches wins the game. If the first pair of batters match one another, they move on to the next set of batters, and so on and so forth. Not only does this showcase more of what baseball is like today, but also helps give pitchers/relievers more rest in what can be a very long season.
Personally, I would like for extra innings in the MLB to be replaced with a home run derby. But it would depend on how well your team has been hitting throughout the year and as of recent. Some will also prefer the idea of starting each inning with a man at 2nd with or without an out. But many will have their own ideas of how to figure out this extra innings issue.
Thanks for reading!