Who’s on 1st, but Why’s this guy on 2nd?

“Hey, Goofy! Yeah, I know we just came in to bat, but you made the last out in the top of the 9th. ~ Now you’re our bonus runner at 2nd to start the top of the 10th! ~ Get out there and score us a run, OK?”
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Productions

Who’s on 1st, but Why’s this guy on 2nd? The question deserves a better answer than the one we we are likely to find among the high and mighty leaders of the game who now bait it forth to us fans as
“a proposition-to-be-tested.”

What test? Is this MLB’s example of transparency in the search for fan inclusion into the process of ~ not simply adding some speed-up rules to the game ~ but semi-honestly to making changes in the very nature of baseball as a game that forevermore shall alter the way the game is played at a more rudimentary level ~ and, worst of all, are these changes really already decided, but, in the view of MLB royalty, simply in need of some democratic watering on their way to this new basic game status?

We shall see.

When the Atlantic Independent League and our Sugar Land Skeeters pick up their trial period playing by the proposed new rules for MLB and all of organized baseball come September 2019, the one rule change that seems to pique the culture skin of most is that one that’s designed to keep extra innings from shifting into exhaustion gear and playing further as though they were simply two rival crews who also seemed to be now playing the game as though they were trying to build a rope bridge to eternity ~ with each team going up and down “one, two, three” in frames that used up about twenty minutes for the whole one-inning process each time they repeated their mutual displays of tired and worn out offensive impotence and general bearableness.


Each time they repeated their act with another inning of boredom on display ~ and with about as much result as that last wordy one-sentence paragraph just provided us here.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Productions


There was no end in sight. The game would go on until some good or goofy looking old infielder got a bad case of 19th inning “wicket legs” and allowed a low speedy grounder to pass through them on a diabolically batted ball that just produced enough energy to plate the tie-breaking win-difference-making run for one of the teams.


Most of us puritan nostalgists don’t want to see the 2nd base placement runner rule breathe the light of day, but some of us want it both ways. As writer Dan Kopf expressed it in an article he wrote back in the earlier days of this proposal on February 10, 2017:


“For baseball fans (like this one), the prospect of a rule change raises mixed feelings. Going to a baseball game is an exercise in nostalgia—its unchanging nature is part of the allure. So the first time a runner saunters over to second base to start an inning, it’s going to be jarring. But knowing an afternoon at the ballpark doesn’t potentially mean committing an evening there, is a very nice prospect too.”


What are we talking about? The most provocative new rule in this test is the one that now aims to shorten extra inning games by beginning the start of each extra inning time at bat with a courtesy runner at second base for the purpose of making the probability of a run scoring greater and the probability of a shorter extra inning game also more likely. The runner will be the last batter from the previous inning or the player who now occupies that spot in the batting order.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Going back to the Dan Kopf quote, my take is simple. ~ You can’t have it both ways. It’s either baseball or it’s not. ~ And starting an inning with a runner on second in the hope that he scores is not baseball. If you’re going to do that, you may as well start the inning by placing that runner at third base ~ and add to it the corollary rule that any move by the pitcher to hold this straw man runner close to the bag ~ even a five-second mean look in his direction by the pitcher ~ shall be considered a balk by the umpire and serve as sufficient grounds for allowing the man to score as the result of this secondary new balk rule transgression.

If you have small kids, other dependents or obligations at home, or work conflicts as a result of late games. just leave early and accept it as part of both life and baseball itself. If you don’t like staying anyplace too long ~ even the ballpark ~ then find something else to do. Extra innings are part of the game that is baseball. ~ And if you really are a baseball fan with no other real obligations to leave early ~ one  who likes the live experience of being at the ballpark ~ just keep on going ~ and staying until the last man is out. ~ Where else would you rather be?



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher


5 Responses to “Who’s on 1st, but Why’s this guy on 2nd?”

  1. Rick B. Says:

    Amen! Preach it, Doc!

    I like extra innings because I feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck. If I do have to leave early due to other obligations, then I do as you say & simply accept it as a part of life.

    I also like seeing pitchers throw complete games. I added that because of two items I came across in putting together some things for the next SABR book I’m co-editing at the moment.

    To wit, Hall of Fame Negro League pitcher Leon Day pitched a 15-inning game for the Newark Eagles in 1946 in which he also hit the game-winning homer. Four years later, while pitching for the Winnipeg Buffaloes, he went the distance for 17 innings in a 1-0 victory over the Brandon Greys that gave the Buffs the first ManDak League title.

    I would love to have seen either of those games!

  2. Mark W. Says:

    No! Don’t like it! Uh-uh. I’ll never forget that 18 inning playoff game in 2005 vs. the Braves, or the 16 inning playoff game vs.the Mets in 1986. How about those 2 extra inning World Series games in 2017? The automatic walk is a travesty. Stop this stuff!!!

  3. Tom Hunter Says:

    I assume if a runner is placed at second base in extra innings, the first batter will be intentionally walked to set up a double or triple play. Changing the rules to appeal to those who don’t love the game or respect its history: Please STOP!

    Can the commissioner be impeached?

  4. gregclucas Says:

    The “starting the runner at 2b” is insane. Visiting team bunts him to third. Runner on third with less than two outs. Odds on getting him in are pretty good. That will be a very common play. But if they only score the one run the home team likely will follow the same path. Could bring the bunt back to MLB. Of course, players would have to learn how to do it again. Messing with the batting order in extra innings is also all against how the game is played. It would be on the line of having designated free throw shooters in basketball (which, by the way, was how they played the game until the mid 1920s.)

    How about the most basic concept. If all are so concerned about length of game (which I am not.) Pace of games is another matter. Anyway…just make a rule that during the regular season no game can go more than 12 innings. If tied then…it goes in the books as a tie. Matter closed. Introduce the old hockey method of two points for a win, one point for a tie and no points for a loss. W-L % breaks point total ties. Have to play games out in post season, of course, but to save pitchers. let teams have a reserve set of pitchers that can ONLY be used in extra innings for the post season. Always are a couple of pitchers left off the post season roster anyway. Add one or two top minor leaguers off the 40 man roster. AND all post season games that go past 12 innings introduce the DH regardless where the game is being played to conserve players.

    • Fred Soland Says:

      Greg, I like your idea of introducing ties into the equation MUCH better than toying with the core rules of the game that have stood the test of time. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!!

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