Rich Eisen did all of us in sports media with a clicks quote a solid Wednesday by passing on a terrible idea he heard about from someone who works for Major League Baseball.
Per Eisen, who has overcome his University of Michigan education to become one of the better sports personalities working today, “one MLB executive” suggested to him it might be interesting to give managers the ability to send anyone they want to the plate to start the ninth inning.
That’s right, the lineup would be suspended at least temporarily “to improve excitement.”
This isn’t worth getting too worked up about because it won’t happen, but it’s also so absurd it’s hard to ignore outright. (Plus, you know, the click quotas thing.)
The ninth inning is already pretty exciting because, you know, it’s the last inning if one team has the lead when it ends.
The randomness of the batting order is part of the charm. It gives non-stars the chance to play hero, which happens time and again throughout the season.
I’m not against some changes, but this is way too drastic.
While I view the pace-of-play initiatives as attempts to bring the sport back in line with what people fell in love with probably long ago (it’s only slowed down over the past 10-15 seasons), having one inning in which the rules are different than the others makes no sense.
(I am not a fan of shootouts to decide hockey or soccer games, either. The 3-on-3 hockey overtime has turned out to be fun, but it was also an answer to teams not really treating overtime the same way they did the rest of the game because they just wanted to preserve a point in the standings.)
To me, this would cheapen the overall experience, telling folks the normal way of doing things really is inferior, which then threatens to made the rest of the game less interesting to the casual fan.
That’s not a net gain.
Plus, I’m not sure what it would really accomplish other than temporarily turning one-run games into home run derbies (though only marginally more than they are now).
What about other scenarios?
Sometimes having your best batters come up later in an inning is an advantage, like when you need to construct a multi-run rally.
If the big boppers come up with someone on base already they have the chance to drive in the winning run with a single or a double rather than having to hit the ball out of the ball park, so there are more potential happy outcomes.
Doesn’t that sound exciting?