In effort to improve pace of play, Commissioner Rob Manfred has floated several ideas to speed up the action on the field. As I’m typing this it was reported that MLB is likely to unveil the automatic intentional walk for 2017. Other more radical ideas, likes starting a runner on second base in the 12th inning are deservedly not seeing the light of day.
However, an interesting idea that, to my knowledge, has not been considered by the Commissioner’s Office is that of the tie. Last week, Travis Sawchick of FanGraphs offered the idea of ending a game if it’s tied after twelve innings and Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus expanded on it to see what it would look like in historical practice. Wondering what the impact of eliminating long, extra inning games, or “weird” baseball, from the most recent Cardinals’ season, I compiled a quick Pro/Cons list of the under-appreciated tie.
Well, for starters, if games ended in a tie after the 12th inning, the Cubs’ 2016 record doesn’t look quite as good as those intimidating 103 wins currently do. Sure, they’re still far and away the best team in baseball, well ahead of the Cardinals, but the 2015 Cardinals would still be the only team since the 2011 Phillies (a team that will always have a place in my heart) to win at least 100 games. And that’s because last season the Cubs played a remarkable six games which lasted longer than twelve innings and were lucky to win five of them. (On September 29, 2016, they had a game with Pittsburgh that was actually ruled a “tie” after it was rained out after six with the score knotted at one, and the opportunity and need for a make-up game had already passed, but that game was omitted from their final record and we’re omitting it here.)
That’s a lot of extra baseball. For instance, the Cardinals only played one game that eclipsed 12 innings (more on that game in a second). So in light of that information, and taking a look at the rest of the NL Central, here are the updated standings if the league opted to implement ties after the 12th:
Here’s another good thing about this proposal (which will likely never happen, but hey): The Cardinals make the postseason. Or the Wild Card game, at least. Like the Cubs, the Giants played a lot of long baseball games last season, and also like the Cubs they were lucky to win a lot of them. They played five +12 inning games and won four. The Mets, the other team to finish a game ahead of the Cardinals in the wild card standings, played only one such game which they lost.
As such, here are the updated 2016 NL wild card standings:
- Mets 87-74-1
- Cardinals 85-76-1
- Giants 83-74-5
Both the Cardinals and Giants would have ended the season nine games over .500, but the four extra ties on the Giants’ resume would leave them on the outside looking in. Instead, the Cardinals go to Queens. They don’t have to worry about Bumgarner’s playoff dominance. Carlos Martinez pitches a solid seven innings to pave the way for an easy win. Cardinals vanquish the Cubs. Then the Dodgers. They sweep through Cleveland (instead of this “seven games” nonsense) for their 12th World Series title and all is okay with the world. Not bad.
We would have missed out on this:
That’s enough for me. Preserve weird, long baseball games forever, please.