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Dodgers News: Fake Extra-Inning Rules Might Be Here to Stay, According to Commissioner

Nothing is temporary. The next time you wonder why people seem unwilling to compromise, look no further than the “automatic runner” rule in major league baseball, which teaches us that if you give an inch, you’re never getting that inch back. This rule affects the Dodgers more than most teams (more on that in a minute), and it’s probably here to stay.

In 2018, MLB brought the automatic runner rule — also known as “international tiebreaker rules” — to all levels of the minor leagues. This made sense because the minor leagues are for development more than for wins and losses, so the value of deciding a legitimate winner of each game is far outweighed by the developmental and injury risk inherent in a 16-inning game or whatever.

At the time, this intrepid reporter liked the idea for the minors but didn’t think it would ever come to the majors, in retrospect placing far too much confidence in the idea that a certain commissioner would be able to recognize the key difference between the minors and the majors.

In 2020, when the season was shortened and the roster rules tweaked due to the pandemic, MLB and the union agreed to use the dumb rule for one year, because pitchers had an abbreviated spring training so the risk of injury was going to be higher. Not ideal, but whatever.

In 2021, MLB and the union agreed to keep the dumb rule for one more year, because they’d be playing a full season after a shortened season, so the risk of injury was going to be higher. Ugh, okay, we get it, but then we’re done!

In 2022, MLB and the union agreed to keep the dumb rule for one more year, because the lockout caused an abbreviated spring training so the risk of injury was going to be higher. Seriously, folks? It’s starting to feel like you just really want to keep this dumb rule and you’re making up excuses for that.

This weekend, commissioner Rob Manfred was talking to his intellectual equal Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, and according to the third member of the bozo brigade, Bob Nightengale, Manfred said the dumb rule will be back.

Two issues, Rob. First, the rule fundamentally changes the nature of the game in extra innings, introducing an element of randomness that doesn’t exist in real baseball. Randomness always favors lesser teams, because a system where the odds of winning are 50/50 is better for the team that would otherwise have a 40 percent chance of winning than the 60 percent competitor.

In the last two seasons, the Dodgers have a 203-84 record (.707 winning percentage) in nine-inning games and a 12-22 record (.353) in extras. I know you’re already typing your comments about fundamental flaws and sacrifice bunts and all that, but the actual answer is that a huge element of luck is inserted into the game when you start putting unearned runners on base.

The second issue is Manfred’s assertion that “overall the fans like it.” Manfred suffers from the same misconception a lot of baseball writers do. Yes, the stupid dumb fake rule does create some excitement for people who don’t care who wins an individual game. If you’re flipping through and you see a tie game in the ninth inning, you might flip to that game knowing there a good chance of a dramatic ending (and soon).

But if you care about who actually wins the game in question, that element of randomness makes the rule infuriating and frustrating, especially if you’re a fan of the team hurt by the randomness. So the end result is that you have a rule that everyone likes except the people most likely to actually be watching the game.

It’s like basing your cat food formula on the fact that dogs and parrots really gobble it up and telling Chris Russo “overall the animals like it.”

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.


  1. I think it’s a good rule it rewards the playoff hitting skills that everyone has been crying about for 2 weeks. Maybe it explains Dodger small ball issues in the playoffs. Move the guy over by bunting or right side groundball to third with no outs, throw in stealing if there is 1 out. On Third with 2 outs you need hit or passed ball / wild pitch. If you get a guy to third with less than two outs you have 2 at bats to get a hit, passed ball, wild pitch etc from getting the run in. Do any of those situations ring a bell?

  2. Easy solution. Play to a tie in the regular season, in the post, play on.
    Not that wasn’t hard was it? Also, get the brackets right my goodness. How in the world did the #1 Dodgers end up with the #4 Padres while #2 played #6? This aint’ rocket science….

  3. Manfred is a jerk who has no respect for the integrity of the game. You earn your way onto second base, you’re not given it. 66% of players who are on 2nd with no outs score. In addition this punishes a relief pitcher who may normally be effective and get out of an inning by just allowing 1 hit. With this rule, he can get the loss without letting up an earned run. This is very bush league. Baseball is a sport unlike any others with (at present) no clocks or limitations on innings. Manfred would like to homogenize it to be just like most other sports, figuring it will draw bigger crowds. He is wrong. It won’t attract fans who really care about the sport. .

  4. The ‘automatic runner’ in extra innings is a stupid rule, promulgated by a commissioner who has no respect for the integrity of the game. Probably the stupidest rule in a long time. You don’t get a ‘freebie’ 2 bases-you earn them! In addition, this also punishes a relief pitcher who in ‘real’ baseball could give up one hit and get out of the inning unscathed. With this rule he can get a loss without allowing an earned run. 66% of runners on 2nd with no outs score.. Manfred would like to homogenize baseball with other sports by using junk ideas like this, time clocks etc, thinking it will draw bigger crowds. It won’t and is very bush league. The quicker we see the end of Manfred the better

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