Tired of blowouts and position players pitching? There's at least one easy fix to this situation.
After the Yankees were tossed around in a 14-run loss last week, manager Aaron Boone resurfaced the idea of a mercy rule in MLB. It's a polarizing topic, for sure. Nine innings are sacred to baseball, aren't they? But how many fans stick around for a late-summer blowout, anyway? Our staff weighs in on the idea of implementing a mercy rule.
What's up with the spate of "convenience" ideas ... safety bases, three-batter minimum, shortening extra innings, extra men for doubleheaders, 26-man rosters and now shortening the product for which customers pay? All because managers want to save their better pitchers for what may or may not be a close game the next day? This is Major League Baseball. It is a grind. It's hard. I'm all for moving games along, but games should honor the most basic and historical structures of the game, like, I don't know, nine innings.
No. This isn't Little League. Let the blowout victims wear it. Plus, when else will we get to see position players pitch and pitchers play positions?
I don’t know if a mercy rule is the solution, as most games never get that far out of hand (unless the Orioles or Tigers are playing). Besides, I’d rather keep alive the hope of the huge comeback. Instead, I wish managers were more willing to use the option to forfeit. If you really don’t want to put a position player on the mound, then throw in the towel. There should be no shame in that.
The idea of a mercy rule is at least worth exploring. Yes, nine innings are integral to the foundation of the sport. But it’s not unprecedented for games to end sooner. How many have ended prematurely because of weather? A game becomes “official” after five innings, so why would it be sacrilegious to call it quits after seven innings of a 15-2 game? The 13-run inning doesn’t come around too often.
MLB has my permission to end games if a team is down 11 or more runs after seven innings.
This is a preposterous idea. I know blowouts are tedious and teams don’t want to waste their bullpen when they have little chance of coming back. But there are other ways to fix this problem without a mercy rule. Increasing active roster sizes to allow for larger bullpens is an option. But when fans buy tickets to a baseball game, they should be able to see all nine innings if they choose, even if a position player is pitching and it’s not competitive.
I think Aaron Boone had a point when he broached the idea of a mercy rule. The novelty of position players pitching is fun and all, but ultimately, shorter games and fewer innings are in the best interest of both players and fans. It can also lead to some entertainment in a blowout. Instead of counting down the innings in a nine-run game, fans could root for the winning team to reach the mercy barrier, ending the game in style. A walk-off homer in a 12-2 win is far better than a random reliever closing it out.
What should be the criteria for a mercy rule? A variety of systems can work. Perhaps an eight-run lead after eight innings, or a 10-run lead after seven. We'll let MLB make the final call, but the mercy rule should be legitimately considered.