MLB wants to reduce the length of games. The league is willing to consider a radical solution to those that last into extra innings: starting each inning with a runner on second to increase the odds of scoring.
If this issue is grave enough it warrants distorting the sport, we’d like to offer a simpler and more elegant solution for the regular season. MLB should have ties.
Soccer leagues use ties for the regular season. The significant difference would be MLB would have to move to a system of points, three for a win and one for a tie, over win percentage.
Somehow, we’ve absorbed the perception ties are un-American. History says otherwise. The NHL had ties until the league began flailing. College Football had ties until the 1990s. The NFL still has them on the odd occasion of a scoreless overtime period. Basketball does not have them, but, comparatively, games are easy to resolve in short overtime periods with a lot of scoring.
We’re talking about a small number of games, historically around 9-10 percent. That number could be reduced by instituting a single 10th inning before the tie was declared. Baseball is the ideal sport for the tie. With its 162-game season it is the ultimate, “this is a campaign, each individual result does not matter” sport.
Baseball’s responsibility is providing entertainment, not a decisive result. Extra innings games are contentious and riveting, during the postseason. They are a nuisance for both fans and spectators during the regular season.
Yes, MLB did have a bad experience with a tie during the 2002 All-Star Game. Though, that was Bud Selig declaring one during the game when fans did not realize such a thing was possible. Fans warned ahead of time would adjust, especially fans pried from their precious 2017 social media feeds. No one’s hot dog and beer consumption would be affected.
Ties are not ideal. But, they are practical. If we’re at the point where MLB feels compelled to create weird scenario baseball to reduce extra innings, the simplest answer is just not to play them.