MLB extra inning rules, explained: Baseball is screwed after 9 frames

MLB’s Joint Competition Committee unanimously voted in favor of the extra inning “ghost runner” rule being made permanent for the foreseeable future.

The NFL season is officially over after Super Bowl 57, which had baseball fans decreeing that it was officially baseball season. It certainly helped with the fact that a variety of players on all 30 MLB teams began appearing at spring training facilities to prepare for the upcoming season. While fans will take in spring training games, it won’t be too long until Opening Day on March 30.

On Monday, fans received some news that they probably won’t like.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, MLB’s Joint Competition Committee unanimously agreed to make the extra inning rule permanent for all regular season games for the foreseeable future. This rule will allow a baserunner to take second base at the top and bottom of extra innings as needed.

MLB’s extra innings ‘ghost-runner’ rule, explained

In the past, MLB games would be played as long as possible if two teams are tied after the ninth inning. Sometimes, these games could go another nine innings! But that all changed in the 2020 season.

With MLB and the Player’s Association (MLBPA) agreeing to terms on starting the 2020 season in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, one aspect they agreed to was the “ghost-runner” rule. Considering they didn’t start the season until that July and that the team’s had spring training cut short, they agreed to the rule of starting a frame of an extra inning with a runner on second to mitigate injuries to players. With that, a player is less like to get injured and the game would end quicker.

A baserunner is the last hitter at the plate in the previous half-inning.

The rule was in effect until the conclusion of the 2021 season, when the collective bargaining agreement between the league and players union ran out. But when both sides agreed to a new deal, the “ghost-runner” rule was brought back for the 2022 season. While it’s not popular among fans, it is liked by players, managers, and executives.

With this latest vote, the man on second base to start extra innings rule is in effect for all regular-season games for the foreseeable future. For fans wondering about postseason games, the old rules will be in effect. As in, no runner will start at second base for the start of a frame in each inning. Instead, the game will take as long as needed. Look no further than the Game 3 of the 2022 ALDS between the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners, which took 18 innings to complete.

Whether fans like the “ghost-runner” rule or not, it is here to stay.