Based on social media reactions, MLB's extra-inning tiebreaker rule is one of the least popular rule changes in recent memory. Among fans, anyway. MLB and the players seem to like it. The Pioneer League, an independent league and official MLB Partner League, is taking the extra innings wackiness to another level.
On Tuesday, the Pioneer League announced it will not play extra innings this season, and will instead decide games that are tied after nine innings with a home run derby. From the press release:
To avoid the excessive strain on our pitching staffs, the Pioneer Baseball League will not have extra innings, but rather will employ a first-of-its-kind "Knock Out" rule that resolves tied games with a head-to-head, "sudden death" home run duel. Under the rule, each team designates a hitter who receives 5 pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit. If still tied after the first "Knock Out" round, another hitter is selected for a sudden-death home run face-off until a winner is declared.
They're calling it "Knock Out," but it's essentially a home run derby. Tomato tomatoh. The game devolves into a "who has the best batting practice hitter" contest whereas MLB's automatic runner at second base rule maintains at least some element of team play, though I reckon a home run derby would be more popular with the masses.
The Pioneer League announced several other rule changes as well, including a Designated Pinch-Hitter and Designated Pinch-Runner rule. In a nutshell, once a game a team can replace a player with a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner without removing that player from the lineup. The pinch-hitter and pinch-runner would be ineligible the rest of the game, however.
So, for example, the Dodgers could pinch-hit Edwin Rios for catcher Austin Barnes, and still keep Barnes behind the plate. Similarly, they could pinch-run Rios for Barnes, and keep Barnes in the game. Rios would be ineligible to play the rest of the game, but Barnes could remain. Teams get one Designated Pinch-Hitter and one Designated Pinch-Runner per game.
I'm not gonna lie, I kinda dig the Designated Pinch-Hitter and Designated Pinch-Runner rules. A home run derby instead of extra innings sounds fun too, though I admit to being one of those weirdos who likes the current extra innings rule, and isn't afraid to make drastic changes to the game.
The Pioneer League, formerly a short season Single-A level, is now an independent partner league following MLB's minor-league contraction plan. The league's 96-game season begins May 22.
, including moving the mound back 12 inches.