ERIE, PA – Tebow-mania came to the small city of Erie, PA last weekend as the Mets Double-A club the Binghamton Rumble Ponies had a three-game stretch.
However, the former Heisman Trophy winner isn’t the biggest distraction this season. Instead the well-attended game in Erie is shows how much of a success he has become.
Hit or miss the ball, the fans seem to love him and that’s a good thing for the game.
No to find the biggest distraction in the minors this season, all you must do is have a game go to extra innings.
You see, baseball in its infinite wisdom decided to see if putting an automatic runner on second base will speed up the game. The thinking is a runner in scoring position with no one out will likely score, ending the game in short order.
“It will be interesting to see, but we haven’t seen it yet,” said pitching coach Frank Viola on Friday. Sunday, the team had an extra inning affair.
Well other teams are seeing the opposite being true, more scoring in extra innings. It seems talking to some Erie officials, teams are going for the one run. A bunt and then a slow grounder of fly ball will plate you a run rather easily. In fact, a little too easily, since many games are going multiple extras with picket fences being built in the scorebook, extending the game and even making the innings longer, since the pitcher must work with runners on base.
And this is in the minor leagues. Can you imaging this in the majors when say a Joe Maddon strategizes against it? My point exactly.
Add to that the ramifications in the scorebook. In theory, you can have a relief pitcher start an inning and not give up a hit, walk or an error doesn’t occur and still get the loss. Baseball scoring is supposed to be fair. That’s why a sacrifice doesn’t count against a batting average.
Look, Commissioner Rob Manfred can be commended at trying something to speed up these games, but this is not it. It’s not working and will not work. You have too many smart baseball men, who will exploit the rules in order to get wins.
Manfred needs to remove this rule at the end of the season at the latest and if possible sooner. End this experiment now.