The 11th inning rule.
August 5, 2008 6:27 AM   Subscribe

The Olympics buys a one-way ticket to bizarro world with its new "11th inning rule." Critics are fuming.

Borrowed from slow-pitch softball, the new rule, which was instigated by The International Baseball Federation (IBAF), mandates that, for games that go to the 11th inning and beyond, each team places runners on first and second. To season the pot even further, teams can select the point in their batting order to start the inning.

"So if this rule were applied to major league baseball against the Yankees, you'd be facing Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in every inning from then on, and with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera on base already," writes Scott Kendrick in his About.com guide to baseball.

"No, that wouldn't affect the game's outcome at all."
posted by Gordion Knott (102 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
So what are they going to call this new sport? Because it's not baseball, and I won't be referring to it as baseball.

Hear that Olympics? I'm not going to call it baseball.
posted by Science! at 6:30 AM on August 5, 2008 [12 favorites]


I don't know why people even bother watching the modern Olympics, at least as presented by network television.

It's not sport any more, it's spectacle.
posted by Malor at 6:31 AM on August 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


I like baseball. Why is it in the Olympics again? There already is a "World" Series, right?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:32 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm with Science! (heh). It's not baseball anymore. Why not let the batters hit off tee's?
posted by Mach5 at 6:33 AM on August 5, 2008


Why is baseball even in the Olympics? The Olympic Games should be for sports which consider winning the Olympic games to be the pinnacle of achievement within that sport. Sports like Football, Baseball or Tennis, where players would rather win a domestic tournament than an Olympic medal have no place in the Olympic Games.
posted by bap98189 at 6:36 AM on August 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


If they are going to allow professional "Dream Teams" in the intended-for-amateurs Olympics, I think it's only fair for the Olympics to strike back by changing the rules to make it harder for them.
posted by DU at 6:37 AM on August 5, 2008


What in the Christ is this shit?!
posted by smackwich at 6:46 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Scott Kendrick is wrong when he writes "So if this rule were applied to major league baseball against the Yankees, you'd be facing Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in every inning from then on" because, from the article: "The 12th inning and beyond would begin where the previous lineup left off, with the two hitters ahead of the batter scheduled to lead off that inning being placed on first and second bases."

You only get to pick the starting point in your lineup in the 11th.
posted by ericost at 6:47 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was sad when I heard that baseball was getting the Olympic boot but if this is the sort of pig you have to kiss to stay in the Olympics, well, to hell with the Olympics.

I say instead of extra innings they play a game of red rover to decide the winner.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:48 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain this without reference to baseball jargon or culture - in other words without using words like 'bunt' or talking about Derek Jeter?
posted by edd at 6:48 AM on August 5, 2008


Can someone explain this without reference to baseball jargon or culture - in other words without using words like 'bunt' or talking about Derek Jeter?

According to Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver, that would be physically impossible. This is just another suicide squeeze on the national pastime.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:53 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yet they still refuse to allow Calvinball to be an Olympic sport?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:54 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain this...?

They're basically requiring teams to stack the deck toward scoring more easily in overtime, so that a winner can be declared more quickly. This is apparently a bad idea to baseball fans, who don't feel like their games aren't already long and boring enough.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:55 AM on August 5, 2008 [37 favorites]


What in the hell.

If they're going to adopt rules from slow pitch softball, they should have the seven run limit, too. That way when your pitcher is the coach's kid and rolls the ball across home plate just in time to walk the entire other team you'll still have time to get to the snack bar before they run out of kool aid pickles.
posted by sugarfish at 6:56 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Can someone explain this without reference to baseball jargon or culture - in other words without using words like 'bunt' or talking about Derek Jeter?"

Apparently baseball makes for dull viewing after ten innings. So says the IOC. These steps will speed the process of getting to the end of a game. (Think "head start".)

I understand that in the 2010 Whistler Winter Olympics, in the curling event they're going to allow the sweepers to cross check the guy throwing the rock after the 10th end for exactly the same reason.
posted by Mike D at 6:57 AM on August 5, 2008


Gawd, you all are acting like they're messing with some great institution with years of tradition.













THAT WAS SARCASM BY THE WAY
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:00 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hear that Olympics? I'm not going to call it baseball.

I'm not either! I'm as offended as when they got rid of Olympic croquet. OTOH maybe by 2012 or 2016 we can have cricket.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:02 AM on August 5, 2008


Can someone explain this without reference to baseball jargon or culture - in other words without using words like 'bunt' or talking about Derek Jeter?

Imagine if, when a football game goes into extra time, the ball is tethered directly to the middle of one goal on a 6-foot bungee cord, the goalkeeper's boots are untied, and once a goal is scored, the other team gets a go at it, too.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:04 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


OTOH maybe by 2012 or 2016 we can have cricket.

Yeah, but only if it involves full five-day test matches, so that the cricket portion of the tournament has to start three months before the rest of the Olympics.

Then we laugh at all the baseball fans complainign that it's too long and boring.
posted by flashboy at 7:04 AM on August 5, 2008


So they're basically turning it into college football. The best thing about baseball is you never know when it's going to end! You don't have to watch the clock - you have to leave your calendar open due to the possibility that you aren't getting home before midnight. Does every single game have to fit into a timeslot now?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:05 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


“We must demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee (that) not only does our game belong alongside the other great sports of the world, but our sport is manageable from a television and operational standpoint.”

Well at least they're blunt about that. It's not about the game, it's about TV.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:07 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The best thing about baseball is you never know when it's going to end!

Reputedly also the best thing about torture.
posted by DU at 7:07 AM on August 5, 2008


uncleozzy: "Can someone explain this without reference to baseball jargon or culture - in other words without using words like 'bunt' or talking about Derek Jeter?

Imagine if, when a football game goes into extra time, the ball is tethered directly to the middle of one goal on a 6-foot bungee cord, the goalkeeper's boots are untied, and once a goal is scored, the other team gets a go at it, too.
"

It works better if you imagine the same thing, but call it soccer.
posted by Science! at 7:09 AM on August 5, 2008


It's a pointless decision. Baseball works fine in the context of television. It's not like any network would broadcast an entire Olympic event anyway.

And sure, it's a pain in the rear to schedule games - so don't schedule games back-to-back.
posted by Xoebe at 7:09 AM on August 5, 2008


Can you imagine the outcry if they did something like this to Soccer? Beijing would burn.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:09 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


> It's not sport any more, it's spectacle.

Arguably that's a better reason for watching, not less. Pure uncomplicated athletics like track and field aren't crowd draws like team sports are.

Once they incorporated shootouts into pro-league football/soccer and hockey, bets were off any other sport staying untampered.
posted by ardgedee at 7:12 AM on August 5, 2008


Can you imagine the outcry if they did something like this to Soccer?

Eh, they've been fucking around with the rules of extra-time in football for decades. Golden goals, silver goals, shoot-outs, joust-offs, gimmicks all over the place. Football fans have yet to set fire to anything.

Well, not for that reason, at least.
posted by flashboy at 7:13 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pure uncomplicated athletics like track and field aren't crowd draws like team sports are.

Which is bizarre to me. Doesn't everyone already have their fill of team sports from the intervening 3 years and 11 months? Whereas seeing prowess displayed in basic, "atomic" physical activities such as running, jumping and throwing is pretty rare and interesting.
posted by DU at 7:15 AM on August 5, 2008


I support this, just as I supported the addition of dueling pistols to fencing events back in Athens - they really sped the bouts up and made things nice and exciting for TV.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:15 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


To the outraged, I'd like to ask what you'd rather happen?

I mean, we aren't talking about games taking place in a stadium that has nothing else scheduled for a week or so. You can't just let these games drag on for hours after they should be over, other teams will be needing the space to play their games.

Given the scheduling constraints that are unavoidable in the sort of jam packed environment that is involved with the Olympics, what would your solution be?
posted by sotonohito at 7:18 AM on August 5, 2008


Play the sport as it was meant to be played and do a better job of scheduling. It has worked for years before now.
posted by Science! at 7:19 AM on August 5, 2008


I love Blernsball.
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:19 AM on August 5, 2008


The fact that baseball is an Olympic sport at all is a joke of the highest order.

It's as bad as saying Australian Rules Football should be included too.

Jeez, Americans shit me sometimes.
posted by Mephisto at 7:20 AM on August 5, 2008


For time constraints purposes, would people be less infuriated if games could end in a tie? Say after 13 innings? Especially early round games, not the actual medal games.
posted by edgeways at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2008


(I should note the following things: I really love extra innings baseball; and I really, really hate the Olympics.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2008


The only rule that ever should be adapted from softball is the requirement that everyone be completely fucking housed on cheap keg beer at all times.

Also I don't know why I care about this or why it makes me so angry, but I literally just snarled and made a fist when I read that article. Is there anyone in any position of authority with the olympics not a venal idiot?
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's not like this sort of thing is unheard of in sports. It's vaguely reminiscent of College Football's EXTREME overtime. More to the point, I totally appreciate the concern for games going into extra innings in the midst of a very tightly regimented couple of weeks. Some might argue that these constraints are a damn good reason why baseball shouldn't be in the Olympics, and I can't say I disagree. Still, this isn't the only time when an extended game can screw up scheduling, as this year's All-Star game shows. (Apologies if either of these points were made in the last article, blocked from it at work, for some reason. Go SurfControl!)

All that being said, this is a fucking terrible idea. Leave baseball alone.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:22 AM on August 5, 2008


Can you imagine the outcry if they did something like this to Soccer?

Honestly, it's very similar to football/soccer. Make the scoring really easy in overtime, so that tiny mistakes can make the difference between winning and losing. I think it's the equivalent of flipping a coin, but at least it's vaguely related to the game so it's "fair".
posted by smackfu at 7:23 AM on August 5, 2008


You can't just let these games drag on for hours after they should be over,

Without getting into a semantics debate, sotonohito, this is exactly the problem. There is no "should be over" in baseball. Even nine inning games can easily stretch to four hours and change. The lack of clock is one of a few things that makes baseball so much different from most (not all) other team sports.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:25 AM on August 5, 2008


Why is baseball even in the Olympics?
So losers like me could still see an Olympic event. I left it too late at the Sydney 2000 games and it was the only event I could buy tickets to. Not only that, it was the women's baseball. The only excitement was when the security thugs chucked out the Korean supporters for beating their drums too loudly.
posted by tellurian at 7:28 AM on August 5, 2008


I may stowaway on a Beijing-bound cargo plane, just so I can heckle this abomination. Phil Rizzutto is screaming 'Holy Cow!' from the great beyond.
posted by jonmc at 7:30 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love baseball like no other sport, but yeah, it really has no place in the Olympics (though if curling does...)

Which isn't to say that Baseball isn't a good international sport, and I'm looking forward to next year's World Baseball Classic.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:33 AM on August 5, 2008


The only thing that will save soccer is adding an extra ball to the field every six minutes.
posted by ~ at 7:36 AM on August 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


These Premises Are Alarmed: There already is a "World" Series, right?

It's named after its original sponsor, the New York World newspaper. Nothing to do with geography.

Don't mind me, I'm just here to spread the trivia.
posted by rusty at 7:40 AM on August 5, 2008


Wow! I never knew.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2008


The reason you never knew is because it isn't true.
posted by flashboy at 7:47 AM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's really fucking stupid. As if we need baseball to be longer. Actually, I'd like to change the inning count of baseball when I'm in charge--I'll make it seven innings instead of nine, so after 3 hours or so, people can get on with their lives. So I'd go the other direction with innings.

The Olympics already suck. I don't know how much of that has to do with the Chinese, or just the over-commercialization, but either way it's annoying.
posted by zardoz at 7:51 AM on August 5, 2008


I never watch the Olympics because I could give a flying fuck about any given athlete's "inspiring Olympic journey" - shut up with the damn weepy bios and get to the running and jumping, Bob Costas. I'm also not wild about blending sports fandom with nationalism - that combos like the peanut butter and chocolate of negative impulses.

I'm tempted to break my boycott this year in order to see if the Beijing smog makes anyone collapse. But I just found out last night that Seahawks preseason games will be running opposite the Olympic games. So sorry, Olympics - maybe I'll catch your giant Nike commercial next time.

Please do keep adding wacky new rules, though. I always thought a little tackling could really spice up volleyball. Or maybe you could hold the sprinting events two at a time - point the runners right at each other and make each event's finish line the starting line of the other event. I'd watch that any day of the week. And can you think of any good reason why fencing events aren't held on the precipice of a cliff or the roof of some tall building? Yeah, me neither.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:51 AM on August 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


You know, being British and even watching Field of Dreams several times I've got no idea at all what this is means. Still thats what I like about the Olympics, being able to check out the minor novelty sports...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:00 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


SpiffyRob Which is, just to continue the derail, one reason why I've never much liked either baseball or football.

If its all important that baseball games continue, potentially for days on end, I'd suggest that they get behind a movement to get it out of the Olympics, because that won't fly in a time constrained environment.

Divine_Wino Oddly, I feel the same sort of rage when I see televised baseball or football, though in my case I know exactly why. Back when I first discovered the joys of Star Trek (the old stuff, in reruns but new to me) the channel that carried it also carried both of those sports and they *always* preempted Star Trek when the broadcast of the sports ran over its allotted time. Its totally stupid but to this day it still pisses me off. Weird how people get irrational about their hobbies, huh?

EatTheWeak Yeah, I wish they'd cut out the "inspiring stories" and show more events. Fencing for example is almost never shown in the US, which sucks massively. What really bugs me is that I'm fairly sure that in the last Olympic broadcast in the USA the "inspiring stories" crap actually got more screentime than the actual games.
posted by sotonohito at 8:01 AM on August 5, 2008


Hell, why doesn't the IOC go all the way and just force each team to pound a keg in between each inning.

*blinks*

This is a brilliant idea, and I fail to see why this hasn't been implemented already.
posted by quin at 8:05 AM on August 5, 2008


I'm also not wild about blending sports fandom with nationalism - that combos like the peanut butter and chocolate of negative impulses.

Did you just call sports fandom a 'negative impulse' and then in the next paragraph tell us you'll be watching the Seahawks preseason games?
posted by kingbenny at 8:06 AM on August 5, 2008


I'd watch the Olympics if Pro Thunderball was involved.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:06 AM on August 5, 2008


Which isn't to say that Baseball isn't a good international sport, and I'm looking forward to next year's World Baseball Classic.

I want to love the WBC so very much, as it is a true attempt to pit baseball's best against each other. But between players who are worried that participation will harm their in-season performance, and players who, indeed, see terrible seasons following their participation, I feel like we're still not seeing it.

There's no easy answer, I'm afraid. Both the MLB and NPB seasons are just too long to appropriately accommodate a multi-week tournament at any time of year.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2008


Well I don't really think that baseball should be an Olympic event to begin with. The whole format is off. Baseball plays in series to see who is better not individual games. Who has ever heard of the World Individual Game??? Also all the best baseball players are in the MLB already which is in... full.... swing (pun intended!) during the Summer Olympics.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:10 AM on August 5, 2008


That's really fucking stupid. As if we need baseball to be longer. Actually, I'd like to change the inning count of baseball when I'm in charge--I'll make it seven innings instead of nine, so after 3 hours or so, people can get on with their lives. So I'd go the other direction with innings.

And that's why the NL is awesome. No DH == at some point, a pitcher has to go to base, pretend to hit the ball a few times, strike out, and we all move on with our lives.

(Yes, okay, it doesn't *always* play out like that, but it's at least semi-reliable. And games don't go on for endless hours.)
posted by kalimac at 8:14 AM on August 5, 2008



The fact that baseball is an Olympic sport at all is a joke of the highest order.

It's as bad as saying Australian Rules Football should be included too.

Jeez, Americans shit me sometimes.


Except that baseball is the second most-popular team sport on the planet, encompassing leagues from the U.S., Canada, all over Latin America, Australia, and, yes, Europe, too.

Just because you don't like the sport is no reason to be an asshole about it.
posted by grubi at 8:14 AM on August 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Baseball's enjoyable becausse it has a rhythm , a progression, a tempo. Messing with that so you can get a quick ending in the 11th retrospectively ruins the whole song.

Imagine that you went to a concert to hear a favorite tune live, and the band added some riffs and improvisions and a guitar solo just to ramp it up, but then, at the crescendo, just as they were about to complete this energetic rendition of your favorite song, the venue's management noted it was five minutes past the hour, and pulled the plug on the amp.

That's what this does to an extra-innings game.
posted by orthogonality at 8:19 AM on August 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


sotonohito - Either that, or make the weepy stories another event. Athletes could compete to see who has the most tragic, crushingly sad story to tell about their background. I would expect competitors from the Balkans to sweep this category most years.

kingbenny - That's different. The Seahawks have never been able to rely on sheer skill and strategy to win games. In order to perform, the Seahawks require love. I try to do my part because, like everyone in western Washington, I'm a little afraid Mike Holmgren will kick down my door and tear off my arms if I fail him.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:20 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Team sports and anything requiring judges to determine the winner shouldn't even be in the Olympics And all the people who still don't like interleague play (a group that includes me) must really think this is ridiculous.
posted by TedW at 8:21 AM on August 5, 2008


The stupidest thing about this is that it won't speed up games, or retard extra innings. It's not sudden death - each team will get their chance to score in this oddly contrived fashion. There are still three outs, and outs (not runs!) are the currency of baseball.

I guess it introduces the possibility of instant double or triple plays, but, again, equally for both teams.

Also, what the fuck are you going to do with the stats? Who will get charged the runs when those guys who were placed on base score? Do the runners still get runs scored? Arrgh! This is an abomination!!
posted by dirtdirt at 8:26 AM on August 5, 2008


To the outraged, I'd like to ask what you'd rather happen?

i'd rather see ties - or continuation of a game on another day
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2008


There's no tying in baseball!

What percentage of baseball games go to extra innings, anyway? This seems like a drastic change to the rules and the nature of the game for something that doesn't happen that often.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:59 AM on August 5, 2008


You missed what happens if the game remains a tie into later innings:

* After 14 innings: Pitchers are required to throw from second base
* After 16 innings: Outfielders are compelled to wear blindfolds
* After 18 innings: Chainsaw-wielding panda bears on roller skates are released into the infield
* After 20 innings: Chinese government starts executing players, one per inning from each team. Family members are billed for the bullets.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:04 AM on August 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is there anyone in any position of authority with the olympics not a venal idiot?
You forgot corrupt.

I think the Olympics should go back to the original way they were played in Greece.
Make everybody play naked....
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2008


People who don't like a sport shouldn't be allowed to determine the rules for it. I, for example, should never be allowed to make up any rules for curling, as I do not particularly care for it. Conversely, the Olympic Committee should keep it's dirty paws off baseball.
posted by grubi at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2008


OMIGOD DID I JUST MISUSE "ITS"?

I should be shot. Goddamn it.

posted by grubi at 9:15 AM on August 5, 2008


disgraceball
posted by oaf at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2008


Just because you don't like the sport is no reason to be an asshole about it.
Wait, is it possible I've been misunderstanding the purpose of team sports all this time?
posted by hattifattener at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2008


I was sad when I heard that baseball was getting the Olympic boot but if this is the sort of pig you have to kiss to stay in the Olympics, well, to hell with the Olympics.

Yup. What he said.
posted by languagehat at 9:45 AM on August 5, 2008


The fundamental problem is that a team which goes, say, 17 innings in an elimination match is going to be at an extreme disadvantage when they have to play the very next day in another elimination match. (Unless they're shooting up HGH, but... that's for another story, amiright?)

That's the problem which this rule is trying to prevent, if the IOC would actually come out and say that versus all of this "scheduling problem" crap people wouldn't be so damned outraged. Let's face it, ice hockey in the Winter Olympics is a completely different game from the NHL. Basketball is a completely different game from the NBA. And with this strange rule, baseball will be a little bit different game from MLB.
posted by mark242 at 9:46 AM on August 5, 2008


The fundamental problem is that a team which goes, say, 17 innings in an elimination match is going to be at an extreme disadvantage when they have to play the very next day in another elimination match.

Well, uh, maybe they should just win the first game in 9 innings. And if they can't, then sure, that's their fault and they're effectively penalized. I see no problem with that.
posted by inigo2 at 9:59 AM on August 5, 2008


International sporting bodies like the IOC and FIFA really are the last bastion of aristocratic privilege. They are basically sinecures for people so disconnected from the world that they simply have no clue about the actual motivations and desires of most of the supporters of the sports they represent. Toss in rampant patronage, corruption and probably a little inbreeding as well, and this is what you get.

What's that Harvey Schiller? Start putting men on bases in the 11th inning and introduce 2-ball walks in the 13th? Well, your experience with SEC football and a second-tier professional wrestling league clearly qualifies to make this decision.

What's that Jacques Rogges? Baseball needs to conform better to the scheduling of a scripted and televised Olympics? Well you're Belgian, so clearly you know what you're talking about.

What's that Sepp Blatter? People are losing interest in football because not enough goals are being scored, so make the net bigger? Women can be refs, but only if they wear tighter shorts and suspender belts? Christiano Ronaldo is a slave? That all seems perfectly reasonable.

I'm not sure myself what professional team sports are even doing in the Olympics anyway. Put me in the camp of making the games more about individual prowess again, let the professionals remain professional, and let the rich old weirdos run sports that rich old weirdos like, like polo or yachting.

Oh, and bring back naked competition, and the pankration.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:08 AM on August 5, 2008


Except that baseball is the second most-popular team sport on the planet, encompassing leagues from the U.S., Canada, all over Latin America, Australia, and, yes, Europe, too.

Not to mention Asia, with countries like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Philipines all having their own professional baseball leagues.
posted by gyc at 10:26 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


maybe they should just win the first game in 9 innings

It takes two teams to have a tie after nine innings. Say there's four teams left in the tournament; the two best teams draw each other and battle in a nineteen-inning marathon that uses up all of both teams' pitchers before one of them wins. The next day, that team has to face the mediocre time that easily beat the slightly-less mediocre team in nine uneventful innings. That's not exactly fair, either.
posted by yhbc at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2008


How about this as a compromise—If baseball goes long, cut sailing (because it's more about the boats than the athletes) and rhythmic gymnastics (because it sucks).
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why does there need to be Olympic baseball? So that Cuba can dominate the US in something.

Everyone who's pointing out the inherent unfairness in playing baseball in the small samples you get in short series and single elimination games is right, too. Even the World Series is played in far too few games to reliably select the best team. So, obviously, Olympic baseball should expand to include at least one 162-game season (or why not four? they've got time).
posted by RogerB at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2008


Oh, and in the examples of international hockey and basketball, most of the rule variations have to do with the size and layout of the playing area, and are primarily intended to create a degree of alignment between the way the sport is played in different countries. I'm pretty sure that most baseball fans from the US, the DR, Cuba, Japan, Korea, etc. would agree that the 11th inning rule is asinine.

So, actually, I guess they have created a degree of alignment between countries. How about that.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2008


What! What! Not sponsored by the World? WTF! Liberal arts education, you have failed my ass for the last time. Out!
posted by rusty at 10:56 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's just the Olympics. They could do away with pitching and hit off of a tee for all I care.

Even the football is going to be unwatchable, since the Premiership begins around the same time- which means there will be almost no one good playing in Beijing.
posted by Zambrano at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2008


Can anyone else name an Olympic sport that has an indeterminate end time? OK, yes, marathons take until the last guy limps across the finish line or is DQed, but there's a pretty fair understanding of when everyone will finish, based on prior performance. But virtually all the others last a specific length of time, or until a specific score is reached, which makes scheduling fairly simple.

I'm willing to bet (as with overtime rules in soccer/hockey), that every sport that lacks a predictable end point will get similar treatment.

(Oh, and is anyone else surprised to learn that Canada has a GOLD MEDAL in Olympic soccer? Yeah. Shocked the hell out of me, too. That's what I love about the Olympics - friggin' bizarre results.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:59 AM on August 5, 2008


Why not just use the official Khoury League rules I remember from grade school and call the game a tie once everybody's getting tired and cranky and it's time for snack?
posted by dosterm at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2008


Why don't they just burn an apple pie in effigy?
posted by drezdn at 1:27 PM on August 5, 2008


I had an apple pie at McDonald's recently. It looked like an egg roll.
posted by jonmc at 1:36 PM on August 5, 2008


People who don't like a sport shouldn't be allowed to determine the rules for it. I, for example, should never be allowed to make up any rules for curling, as I do not particularly care for it. Conversely, the Olympic Committee should keep it's dirty paws off baseball.

Please RTFA before commenting, (this goes for the fanIQ poster too). The rules change was instigated by the IBAF not the IOC. In fact, the IOC does not make rules decisions at all, it leaves all that to the respective international federations. Now granted, this rule change was made directly in reaction the IOC decision not to include baseball in 2012.



The fundamental problem is that a team which goes, say, 17 innings in an elimination match is going to be at an extreme disadvantage when they have to play the very next day in another elimination match. (Unless they're shooting up HGH, but... that's for another story, amiright?)

That's the problem which this rule is trying to prevent, if the IOC would actually come out and say that versus all of this "scheduling problem" crap people wouldn't be so damned outraged.


You are correct about the disadvantage, but you are wrong on other counts. It is not considered an issue in other sports, especially not by the IOC since they don't make the rules of the sport, The IOC makes decisions on what sports to include from the very large group of sports jostling for a spot based on how popular it is and how much room there is in the very full olympic schedule. For example, when women's wrestling was included, they did not actually give wrestling any more time, the amount of male wrestlers allowed in was reduced. A baseball game taking a completely unpredictable amount of time makes it very hard to program, thus it probably takes a lot of time out of the schedule.
posted by Authorized User at 1:40 PM on August 5, 2008


Say there's four teams left in the tournament; the two best teams draw each other and battle in a nineteen-inning marathon that uses up all of both teams' pitchers before one of them wins. The next day, that team has to face the mediocre time that easily beat the slightly-less mediocre team in nine uneventful innings. That's not exactly fair, either.

If you're trying to legislate fairness into the game, though, you'll have to do a lot more than that. Some groups are inherently more difficult than others. Some schedules are inherently more difficult than others (day game after a night game, for example).

Yes, it sucks that the luck of the draw means you might have to play against a better team, but a large part of the game of baseball (and every other sport, really) is about strategy. Worried about the game going 19 innings? Take more risks early.
posted by inigo2 at 2:07 PM on August 5, 2008


If they really really no-other-alternatives needed to do something to shorten extra-inning games, they maybe should have turned to a solution more like the NHL did with 4-on-4 overtimes. Perhaps removing an infielder or outfielder, or both, after nine innings. Increases the chance of scoring without creating a stats nightmare.
posted by statolith at 2:09 PM on August 5, 2008


Either that, or make the weepy stories another event. Athletes could compete to see who has the most tragic, crushingly sad story to tell about their background. I would expect competitors from the Balkans to sweep this category most years.

This would be totally awesome. It'd be like a poetry slam for sob stories. The athletes get up on stage and have five minutes to knock you dead with tales of heartbreak and sacrifice and inspiration; they can have a team of three backup performers to handle things like visual aids and live music/soundFX (playback of music from a CD or mp3 strictly prohibited).

In fact, do it as a biathalon: sympathy trolling + drinking.
posted by cortex at 2:27 PM on August 5, 2008


I thought people in other countries were anti-high scoring in everything (granted, I've extrapolated this from little data, and am being half-serious, half-sarcastically pro-AMERica). But other FIFA countries think it odd when we institute shootouts in soccer/association football instead of golden goal OT. They (probably rightly) criticize the NBA for promoting high scoring and showboating. But now this rule. And not only is it silly for promoting high scoring and action action action, which I thought only us americans liked, not international sports associations. But it's not really fair. It favors the team with a lopsided batting order. Up until the 11th, teams with a more balanced batting order would have an equal chance. Then suddenly they have to change their strategy. No?
posted by gauchodaspampas at 2:45 PM on August 5, 2008


Team sports and anything requiring judges to determine the winner shouldn't even be in the Olympics

TedW FTW.

Which is not to say that everything that doesn't require a judge, say arm wrestling, should. But team sports have never been a comfortable fit, and sports that require judging, while long a tradition now, have always been impugned (the "Russian judge") and nowadays, along with hosting rights, has killed any respectability the Olympics had.

I'm just sad that sumo never made it past the demonstration stage. Though I appreciate the rather one-sided supply of competitors.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:37 PM on August 5, 2008


The Olympics is just plain retarded these days. I personally hope this is the last one.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on August 5, 2008


The crazy part is the part where there's a member of the chinese peoples army standing BEHIND those runners, telling him he'll be shot if he DOESN'T run on every pitch.
posted by TomMelee at 5:29 PM on August 5, 2008


So what are they going to call this new sport? Because it's not baseball, and I won't be referring to it as baseball.

Hear that Olympics? I'm not going to call it baseball.
posted by Science! at 9:30 AM on August 5 [11 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]


then call it CALVINBALL.
posted by liza at 8:30 PM on August 5, 2008


Look, you could do worse than the 11th inning rule. At least that rule is modified baseball, rather than deciding things with a home run hitting contest. Hockey/soccer tiebreaker shootouts are bizarre.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:41 PM on August 5, 2008


flashboy: Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and VVS Laxman seem to be lobbying for Twenty20 to be included in the, you guessed it, 2020 Olympics.
posted by the cydonian at 1:12 AM on August 6, 2008


I find it a little bizarre that there's such an outcry over this - especially as the core game isn't changing, only the Olympic variant.

Other sports that are more popular and have had a longer and more influential history have experimented with much more radical changes. Football/soccer, the most popular game in the world, has experimented with numerous significant changes, most notably including changes to the offside rule, the introduction and later removal of the Golden and Silver Goals and the introduction of the penalty shootout. The introduction of one day internationals and Twenty20 have both boosted the popularity of Cricket.
posted by HaloMan at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2008


This is a sport where there are still debates over whether the DH rule is a good idea. It's still a new rule, it's only been around for 35 years.
posted by smackfu at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2008


Please RTFA before commenting, (this goes for the fanIQ poster too). The rules change was instigated by the IBAF not the IOC. In fact, the IOC does not make rules decisions at all, it leaves all that to the respective international federations. Now granted, this rule change was made directly in reaction the IOC decision not to include baseball in 2012.

Thank you for correcting me. The spirit of my statement still stands. If you don't like the sport, you don't get to make any rules regarding that sport.
posted by grubi at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2008


Isn't/wasn't the IOC looking at dropping baseball from the Olympics? If you're going to do stupid stuff like this to the rules, please just drop it.
posted by Waitwhat at 5:43 PM on August 6, 2008


It's already dropped.
posted by smackfu at 6:00 PM on August 6, 2008


Other sports that are more popular

As has been pointed out above, there is only one more popular sport.

and have had a longer and more influential history

What sport has a longer history than baseball? Chess?

Baseball is OLD. They were playing the modern version of the game (sort of) in 1845 in an organized fashion and THAT version was around for some time before anyone bothered to write anything down.

That's older than modern football by almost 2 decades.
posted by Bonzai at 11:41 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Out of interest, can anybody point me to a reference for baseball being the second-most popular sport in the world, or suggest which criteria are being used to judge that? Not denying that it can be true, but there's 1.5billion people on the Indian sub-continent, and they're pretty keen on cricket, so there's some stiff competition.
posted by flashboy at 1:15 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


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