Major League Baseball introduced the rule in extra innings where a runner begins the inning on second base back in 2020. At first it was supposed to just be for the 2020 season, but it’s stuck around. It’s only a rule for the regular season and it doesn’t apply to the playoffs, but by-and-large the fans have pushed back against it. While you can find some who do enjoy it, there’s a much larger congregation of fans who despite it.

Rob Manfred, the much maligned commissioner of baseball, spoke with Chris Russo on his Sirius XM Radio show this afternoon and it sounds like the plan is to keep that rule in place.

“The clubs like it, the players like it,” Manfred said. “And I think overall the fans like it. I think it does bring sort of a focus to the end of the baseball game in a way that has been positively received.”

It does not surprise me at all that the teams like it. Bullpens are no longer built for long games. Most teams don’t carry a long reliever. Almost every reliever is a 1-inning, max effort kind of guy these days. In theory, games will end quicker with this rule versus just playing without it, and that makes it better for team roster construction. Front offices aren’t likely to be punished too often with how their bullpens can’t handle long games when they don’t find themselves in long games.

As for the players – it’s tougher to say why they like it. I guess the games to end quicker.

What I would love to see, though, is Rob Manfred explain where he got the idea that fans like it “overall”. Just because you say something out loud doesn’t make it true. Then again, hardly anyone ever pushes back against things that Manfred says….

Well, not exactly.

But rather than expand on things where he said that he’s no longer optimistic that the Athletics remain in Oakland, he chose to not answer any questions.

51 Responses

  1. Greenfield Red

    The statue of Rob Manfred at Cooperstown, if there ever is one, should be of titled “Looking the other way”. That’s exactly what he is doing as baseball is beginning the draw down to irrelevance.

  2. Daytonnati

    The “business” of baseball has finally overwhelmed the “game” of baseball. I notice that MLB is scheduled to avoid going head-to-head with football tomorrow. Although it has been a truth for years, it is still sad to see baseball concede defeat.

  3. Votto4life

    Why is it so hard for the owners to hire someone decent to be Commissioner? I truly can’t think of any Commissioner I have ever liked. Maybe Happy Chandler, but he was before my time

    • Greenfield Red

      He is the Owner’s puppet. A Commissioner who cared about the future of the game would have to oppose most things the current Owners want. Currently, it seems it’s a circular firing squad of Owners who only care about their wallets in the here and now.

      But really, the players are no different or guys wouldn’t be making 30 mil while retired players from the 60s and 70s have to sell cars to make ends meet, and minor leaguers wouldn’t have to find sponsor families.

      Agree on Happy Chandler. We need Happy 2.0 to fix this mess.

    • TR

      It’s not easy to remove a ML baseball Commissioner who’s a Yankee fan.

  4. Oldtimer

    If the Athletics move, it will be their fourth city. Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland, and Las Vegas if it happens.

    • DataDumpster

      Kansas City Athletics? A little before my time but didn’t know about that move. They were a horrible team for their entire short existence (1955-1967) and then the notorious Charles O. Finley took charge and moved the team to Oakland. Tremendous success soon followed (the last 3-peat?) and I remember distinctly the outlandish uniforms, orange baseballs, etc. But even during their World Series with the Reds in 1972, they still couldn’t fill the park.
      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I thought I had the last 60 years covered after the Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers connection was discovered some time ago.

      • Oldtimer

        That’s because they traded some (most) of their best players to NYY in exchange for Yankee players who were past their prime.

        Roger Maris to name one. He went from KCA to NYY and won two straight MVP there.

      • Jim Walker

        Don’t know which moves you know of; but, several years back I sat down and tried to work those since WW2. The Orioles came into being in 1953 after being previously the St Louis Browns. The Braves bounced and then bounced again. The A’s as detailed above.

        The team now in Minnesota was previously the Washington Senators (I actually attended one of their games in DC circa 1960). The next iteration of the Washington Senators is now the team known as the Texas Rangers.

        And of course the Giants and Dodgers moved west from NYC without changing the team name.

  5. Tom Reeves

    How many teams have made 4 moves to 4 cities?

    The franchise now known as the Atlanta Braves we’re in Milwaukee, Boston, and… Cincinnati.

    What other teams have moved to 4 cities?

    • TR

      If the A’s move to L.V., they’ll be the only ML franchise to originate in one city and move to three others. The only other team (NBA) to be in four cities is the Royals/Kings who originated in Rochester, N.Y. and then Cincinnati – K.C. – Sacramento.

  6. Harry Stoner

    The jury is still out on the “runner on second” gig for me.

    I enjoy extrat inning games, but I’m still wrapping my head around the new deal.

    The Reds bullpen has been so appalling bad that they do their damage long before the 10th inning.

    I think the “two pickoff throws to 1st base limit” is going to prove to be the far more controversial (and dumber) idea.

  7. LDS

    The game hasn’t really had a commissioner that looked out for the game since maybe Kuhn, and I wasn’t his biggest fan – Vida Blue joining Seaver? Certainly, Uberroth brought in the revenue as has seemed to be the trend ever since. All the various rule changes are about the money not the game. Sad but that’s the way it is.

  8. CI3J

    I’m fine with the Ghost Runner rule. In the end, a team still has to perform under pressure to win the game, it just helps things along a bit.

    Really, do we still want 20-inning, burn the bullpen and starters so your backup catcher has to pitch kind of games? I certainly don’t want them. Anyone remember what happened to Aaron Harang after he was forced to pitch in one of those games?

    Sometimes, rule changes like this are there to protect the players. It’s a bit like how in football they moved the kickoff further up the field to discourage returns since so many players were getting injured on them. It’s silly to potentially cause one of your pitchers to blow out his arm because he had to pitch in a 20 inning game on a random Wednesday night that’s still worth only 1 win/loss in a 162 game season.

    Consider the alternative: What if they decreed that if the game is still tied at the end of the 12th inning, then… That’s how it’s scored, as a tie? You think people were gnashing their teeth at Bud Selig after that All-Star Game tie, imagine if it became a thing in the regular season.

    I think for me, after the universal DH change, I just don’t care that much about other rule changes. I hate the universal DH. My preferred version of baseball has already been erased forever, so if they want to keep tinkering with the rules, I say go for it.

    Let’s see what baseball looks like 10 years from now. Maybe they could add some cricket style rules, like if a guy gets an extra base hit, that automatically counts for a “point” (wouldn’t make sense to call them “runs” any more) and a HR is worth 2 “points”, plus however many people were on base. It would make the game more high scoring and would encourage players to be more aggressive with taking the extra base on hits. Heck, maybe they could add a “point” for stolen bases too, and a “point” for each strikeout, and a “point” to the other team for every walk issued. Giving players more opportunities to score and making the game higher-scoring in general would make it more interesting. You’d regularly see scores that would look like football scores, but wouldn’t that be kind of fun?

    Anyway, like I said, any changes they want to make to the game now, I say go for it. Baseball needs a shot in the arm if it wants to stay relevant, so let’s hope these rule changes help in that regard.

    • Doc

      They look like football scores any way. The Phillies won game 1 by a score of 42-35. The Astros took game 2 by a score of 35-14. Just because football multiplies scores by 7 doesn’t make them higher scoring.

      Soccer is low scoring but it rules worldwide.

  9. Eric the Red

    Bart Giamatti could have been a very good commissioner. RIP Bart

  10. Jim Walker

    I like the so called ghost runner rule. Every other major sport in this country has special tie breaking rules, why not baseball.

    • DX

      They have tried many things to increase the interest in baseball. The minimum three batters, no shift, ghost runner. I don’t know if any of these changes have helped. I do know I don’t see kids playing baseball outside like they used to, the baseball park by the house has less teams and the kids that play show up at game time and don’t show much interest.

      • TR

        Much more attention to their electronic devices than baseball in the former cornfield or on the dusty diamond.

      • JayTheRed

        I barely see kids playing outside period! They are all glued to their phones, computers, or tablets as soon as they have a chance to do anything besides eat drink sleep and go to school.

  11. Old-school

    Not a huge fan of the ghost runner rule, but its the lesser of 2 evils. Nothing worse than a 16 inning 3-2 game till 1 am on a cold wet April night.

  12. Hotto4Votto

    I personally like the rule. More excitement at the end of games, and shortens extra innings games.

  13. west larry

    I like the ghost rule, as it shortens some marathon games from going 15 innings or more. Putting in a time clock, making the bases larger and restricting the shift may help speed up the game. What if baseball allowed unlimited substitution of players? It wouldn’t speed up the game, but I think it would perk up the interest in the game. .What if baseball allowed huddles of 45 seconds if the bases are loaded with less than two outs? I think I am the only one who would like that…

    • west larry

      If you are old enough to remember Roy Macmillan when he played shortstop for the reds in the mid 1950’s – he was a great defender who couldn’t hit a lick. What if Jerry Lynch or Smoky Burgess were allowed to hit for him? Maybe that would lessen the imbalance between the haves and have-nots, as the weaker teams could use their few good players more often.

      • TR

        In ten years with the Reds, Roy McMillan’s overall batting average was .249; not bad at all. Combine that with Johnny Temple’s nine year overall average of .291 and the Reds had one of the best doubleplay combinations in baseball. And then, add in Big Klu who in eleven years with the Reds hit .302. The 1950’s were great baseball days at Crosley Field.

      • west larry

        really? I thought his average was like .180,

      • Oldtimer

        McMillan was a decent hitter, especially for SS in those days. Not a power hitter but decent overall. He hit better as a Brave than as a Red.

        Interesting quirky fact. Both Roy McMillan and Joe Morgan were born and raised in Bonham, TX.

      • Bill J

        I remember Mac hitting a ball once that Charlie Neal playing 3rd base could only put his arms over his face to keep from getting smacked. Remember Mac was only a softball player when he signed.

  14. scotly50

    Shorten the games to seven innings. Move the pitching mound down a couple of inches. Start the ghost runner in the first inning. Baseball would become relevant again and would compete with the other major sports.

    • greenmtred

      Baseball might become a bit more relevant to some people and less relevant to others. Watching and appreciating it requires a decent attention span, an attribute largely ignored in popular culture. I’m not convinced that it can be changed enough to make it provide constant and instant gratification, nor do I believe that it should be. Maybe being a niche sport would suit it–and many of us–better.

  15. Doc

    I don’t mind the ghost runner concept but I don’t like it as implemented. I would start a runner on 1B in the 10th, 2B in the 11th, and 3B in the 12th. The latter two if the game hasn’t ended sooner. If still tied after 12, call it a tie.

  16. MK

    Good Rule, makes the game more entertaining and interesting to watch. Adds a couple additional layers of strategy. All sports adjust or fail.

  17. Votto4lfe

    All these rule changes reminds me of an aged Hollywood starlet trying to recapture her youth by too much plastic surgery. Sometimes, it’s better to just grow old gracefully.

    Very few young people play the game. Baseball has been replaced by football, basketball, soccer and video games.

    I think baseball will survive but it’s no longer the national pastime. MLB will still strive in the large markets. But I do think in smaller markets, like Cincinnati, the game will struggle to survive.

    • Ryan

      Do they even have Knothole in Cincinnati any more?

    • JayTheRed

      Baseball needs to divide the Leagues into big market and small market and then. See if the best small market team can even compete with the best big market team. Otherwise make it so there are two champions, One in each league.

    • Mike V

      It kills me to say this , but I agree .. All of these other games provide “Excitement” and instant gratification, something Baseball will never be able to change enough to provide . The “old man” in me ultimately believes that just like everything else in society standards have been lowered to the point of “Dumb and dumber” is the rule rather than the exception and people demand nothing less or is it more ? (LOL)

  18. Mark Moore

    No strong opinion one way or another. Biggest takeaway from the article is where Doug notes the near disappearance of the long reliever in the bullpen. Seems that is true and, even within the 3-batter era, everybody still has a “specialty” of some kind.

    So, the Las Vegas Athletics, huh? 😀

    • Harry Stoner

      The Reds had some bulllpen arms to go long in relief, but switching players around is Bell’s way of appearing as if he’s ‘managing’.
      Using three relievers rather than one guarantees another pair of BBs.
      Somehow that flies under his ‘analytics’ radar.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m pretty certain we will see a name change if they go to Vegas.

      • CI3J

        The Las Vegas Vegans. Their mascot can be an anthropomorphic broccoli.

      • Doug Gray

        Has to have one of those Wisconsin Cheesehead hat things on, though.

  19. David

    I’m not sure we know for sure if fans like the rule. First you need to define “fan”. Do we mean all fans or die hard fans or fans who attend games or just watch on TV. If by fans it is those who follow the game most closely and share their opinion then it may be a no. I personally like it. CFB has the worst tie breaking rules. With MLB, pitching still controls the result in extra innings.

  20. Jim Walker

    I am a hockey and European football (soccer) guy through the baseball offseason, so how about this…..

    Instead of standings based on straight won/lost %, use standing points like hockey and soccer. Award 4 points to the winner of games won in regulation, 0 to the loser. If a game goes to extra innings, the eventual winner gets 2 points and the loser 1.
    The “bonus point” for a regulation win should help create a spread in the standing to help avoid ties.

  21. IrishMike75

    I love the ghost runner… and I’m 69 years old. I’ve followed the game since I was a little boy and collected cards. The game needs to adapt and evolve or it’ll go the way of the West. I like the pitch clock. I like the DH. The game needs to relate to the younger generation…I like bat flips… attitude… and I grew up with no facial hair and black cleats on the Reds. Charles Finley “got it”. We need to as well!

  22. CI3J

    I wrote a much longer post high up about this, but here’s my proposal: Give hitters AND pitchers the ability to score additional “points” for their teams (can’t call them “runs” any more).

    Extra base hit: 1 point
    Stolen base: 1 point
    Drawing a walk/hit by pitch: 1 point
    Scoring a run: 1 point
    Home Run: 3 points ( 2 for the HR, 1 for the run scored)

    Strikeout: 1 point

    I think having all these additional ways to score would make the game a lot more interesting and lead to much higher scores and more wild shifts in momentum in the games. Plus, it more directly rewards the players for being really good at what they do. It also encourages more speed and contact, which is is more exciting too.

    Fans would be more inclined to hang on every pitch, because players could potentially score a point at any moment, no need to wait until you have a runner “in scoring position”. And suddenly, a strikeout is cause for much bigger celebration, as is drawing a walk. A pitcher can still issue signal for an intentional walk with no penalty, but after the first pitch of that at-bat is thrown, they can no longer do so.

    And home runs are literally game-changing. But you can counter a team of sluggers by having a fast team that draws walks, hits a lot of doubles, and has a lot of strikeout pitchers.

    If they really want to revive interest in baseball, they have to make the games more dynamic and exciting. That’s simply the reality of the modern ADD world. Creating more scoring chances would really up the drama in the games, which too often I’ve heard people complain about baseball by saying “Nothing happens.” If teams are scoring points every inning, then something is definitely happening.

    That’s my modest proposal.

    • west larry

      for me, you would need a “box score” of all these elements on a daily basis, and a second “box score” to show the cumlative points year to date.

      • CI3J

        Box scores already list things like strikeouts and walks, and XBH, HRs, and SBs are usually included below the boxscore. The information is already there, they would just need to convert it into points.

  23. RedFuture

    I’d like to see the ghost runner rule limited to the final game of a series. Otherwise, I’d like to see tied games pause after 12 innings, to be resumed the following day an hour before the scheduled game. Teams should be permitted to call up an extra pitcher eligible for both games. Whenever the resumed game goes beyond 15 innings, the start time for the scheduled game should be reduced to a 7-inning game.