NEW YORK — Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, the Indians demolished the Yankees in their four-game series opener (CLE 19, NYY 5). It was such a beating that New York used part-time first baseman Mike Ford on the mound for the final two innings.
“For Ford and some of the guys, (a position player pitching) is fun,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Friday, “but sitting in my chair, you worry about hurting someone.”
Boone was also asked Friday whether he would be in favor of a mercy rule in blowout games like Thursday, a mechanism where the losing team could essentially forfeit in the late innings and save not only their pitching staff, but the other team’s as well.
“I think there would be a benefit to that,” Boone responded. “You would probably eliminate a lot of the unwritten rules, people running or swinging. It would be like, if you get to this point after seven innings or whatever, there might be something to that and worth exploring … Because it’s not fun to have to put in a position player in that kind of situation.”
Would a mercy rule benefit MLB? Yankees manager Aaron Boone thinks so.
Let’s start with the obvious: MLB is not adopting a mercy rule anytime soon, and the single biggest reason is sponsorship and advertising dollars. Losing a few innings of commercials and on-screen ads won’t go over well with the corporations paying big bucks for the exposure. As always, money will be a deciding factor here.
Also, what about the fans in attendance? Do they get a rain check or some other form of compensation for having a playable game called early due to poor play (as opposed to weather)? Tanking is perceived as a major problem throughout baseball as it is. Sending fans home early because the team stinks would only make it less popular, I believe.
That all said, there is some merit to a mercy rule, mostly because it would help prevent injury. It’s not just the pitchers or the position players pitching either. Position players are also at risk in the field and in the batter’s box. MLB and the MLBPA should at least consider anything that makes the game safer. They wouldn’t be doing their job otherwise.
The International Baseball Federation, the governing body for international competition, has a mercy rule that ends the game when one team leads by at least 10 runs after seven innings. The rule is used during the World Baseball Classic. In the Little League World Series, the games ends if one team leads by 15 runs after three innings or 10 runs after four innings.
MLB could follow the IBF mercy rule, and perhaps make it optional. Let the trailing team decide whether to throw in the towel and essentially forfeit the game, or even make both teams agree. If one side wants to keep playing, make them keep playing. Like I said though, MLB will be mercy rule free until sponsors and advertisers are satisfied.
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