Houston (CBS Houston) – On Sunday night and into the hours of Monday morning, the Yankees and the Cubs played an 18-inning game. Yes, an 18-inning game has happened before in baseball, but it shouldn’t ever happen again in the regular season.
I want to sell you on ties. Not the ones you wrap around your neck, but the ones where teams play a regulation length game and have scored the same amount, and then the game is over.
Ties are a taboo idea. It’s like kissing your sister, neither team wins, everyone is disappointed and Major League Baseball even made the All-Star Game “count” because one of the mid summer classic’s ended in a tie.
Let’s not be naïve though. Ties are, and have been, very active throughout sports history. Soccer has used ties forever and still to this day. Football has a long history in ties, and in the NFL a game can still end in a tie.
I believe it’s time for Major League Baseball to take the same approach. No one wants to play an 18-inning game in the regular season. Most fans don’t want to watch an 18-inning game. Whether there’s work or school the next day, how often will you want to do anything for five to six hours? If you think fans want to sit through an 18-inning game, just look at the crowd shrink inning by inning in games that go that long.
The real problem is for the teams that play these games. It kills team’s bullpens and it takes at least a week to recover. It’s too punitive for teams that go extra innings on the pitching staff. The front office must make roster moves the next day just in order to have an operating bullpen.
Also, winning in 18 innings shouldn’t carry the same amount of weight as winning in nine innings. If your team beats another team 9-2 in nine innings, don’t you feel a little cheated that another team wins 5-4 in 18 innings and it carries the same weight in the standings?
Baseball seems to be on a mission to shorten games in some form or fashion. Whether it’s to limit pitching visits, not have to throw all four pitches on an intentional walk, trying to quicken the pace, it’s evident that length of game is an objective for baseball. While, long extra inning games aren’t necessarily a pace of play concern, it sure would help the average length of game to limit extra innings to 11 or 12 at maximum before calling it a tie.
Yes, a win after an 18-inning game is nice, and you may forever remember the night you were at an 18-inning game, the negative impact it has on a team’s bullpen outweighs both. Leave those 18-inning moments to the postseason.