Extra, extra: Play 12, suspend & resume
May 16, 2017 3:00 AM
by Mark Mayer
When the Yankees and Cubs played that 18-inning marathon at Wrigley Field back on May 7 it raised the usual arguments – pitching staffs are taxed to the max and perhaps major league baseball should consider a tie.
A tie! Whoever said that must be Bud Selig or on crystal meth. Selig, in wisdom only he can define, declared a 7-7 tie after 11 innings of the 2002 All Star game at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Since the All-Star game is a separate entity, the normal rules of baseball should be adjusted. Allowing players to re-enter is definitely a better option than a tie.
I also heard suggestions that teams should start extra innings with a runner on second base. That must have been the crystal meth taking effect.
The knee jerk (with emphasis on jerk) reaction is utter nonsense and an insult to the integrity of baseball not to mention the angst it would cause in the betting world. Extra-inning games are memorable. We’re coming on the anniversary of the May 31, 1964 game between the Giants and Mets at Shea Stadium that lasted 23 innings. Worse yet, it was the second game of a doubleheader.
Joe Christopher tied the game 6-6 in the last of the ninth with a home run and the Giants finally won 8-6 in 23. In between, Mets shortstop Roy McMillan pulled off a triple play in the top of the 14th and Giants reliever Gaylord Perry came on in the last of the 9th and pitched through the 22nd inning. It was that landmark performance that landed Perry a spot in the starting rotation and he went on to become a Hall of Famer, spitter and all, in 1991.
In those days though it was not uncommon for a reliever to throw multiple innings; not the case in this age of specialization. In 1964 you didn’t have 8th inning setup guys and exclusive closers. Larry Bearnarth, normally a short reliever, pitched eight innings for the Mets. That would have never have happened today.
As a fan I love extra innings because they often provide lasting memories. As a 9-year-old (ouch) I was glued to the TV past 2 a.m. in New York and then hung around for Kiner’s Korner on WOR-TV. But I can see the argument for throwing pitching staffs out of whack and creating unfair situations for the next game.
The Yankees had to immediately fly to Cincinnati to play the Reds with no off day. The Cubs had to do the same, visiting Colorado. Fortunately things worked out for both. The Yanks won at Cincy, while the Cubs-Rockies game was postponed due to bad weather.
Long story short, I have a solution that would make all parties happy. Play 12 innings and if the game is still tied suspend it. Come back the next day and finish it before the regularly scheduled game. If it’s the last game of the series, treat it like a rainout and resume the game some time during the season when both teams have an off day.
Also allow teams to be able to bring all their players back to start the 13th inning. Say the game ended with the No. 3 hitter scheduled to bat. Nothing would change. That No. 3 hitter bats but the game is treated like it was brand new. The lineups would start out the same, but managers would be allowed to use their entire roster just like it was 0-0 in the top of the first.
The 23 inning marathon lasted 7 hours and 23 minutes. That’s rough on players, fans and bettors. A good night’s sleep is not a bad thing for everyone involved.
A tie! Screw that.