The Commish Speaks: Game Length (Cont.)
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
While we are on the topic of game length, let’s use a few examples to illustrate some points. As I stated in the previous blog on game length, the seven inning game is put into effect for games that start late in order to avoid machlokes at the end of close games. Prior to the incorporation of this rule, there was a tendency for various teams to engage in unfair and unsportsmanlike conduct such as stall tactics, intentionally getting out or making errors as strategic moves. These actions have no place in baseball. Baseball is meant to be played outside the realm of time and we try to achieve this goal.
There have been three games played since last Sunday where the seven inning rule was invoked and all for different reasons (We will examine the dynamics of these games below). While there were some player complaints, it was kept to a minimum and it is my hope that one day these complaints will be a thing of the past. Honestly, if these two extra innings and perhaps one extra at bat is so crucial to you, then maybe you require more than the RJSL can provide. In a competitive league with dynamic and passionate individuals, it is imperative to avoid the type of confrontations which resulted prior to this rule.
Game 1: Getting to a Sunday morning game on time can be challenging for some and it is not unusual for a 9:15 AM game to start at 9:25 AM. This is, of course, quite unfair to those players who arrived on time and it is even more frustrating when an entire team arrives on time and the opposing team is late. Players must understand that if they have a 9:15 AM game, they have a direct responsibility to both teams to arrive on time. In this case, since the game started late, it was called for seven innings (Regardless if the game ends 1-0 and is completed in an hour or if the game concludes 25-23 and the 10 minute rule (see my previous blog) must be invoked in the fifth inning). This particular game turned out great, albeit a bit short.
Game 2: There are times when unforeseen circumstances delay a game and a plan of action is required on the fly. In this particular case, a Sunday 6:00 PM game was delayed for 25 minutes because another league was using the field. As a reasonable solution, it was decided that the delayed game would be seven innings. However, the 10 minute rule would not be enforced. As a courtesy, the Park’s Department extended their hours until 10:15 PM (10 minute rule 10:05 PM) so that the nightcap could also be completed in seven innings. Of course, if the first game was crisp and finished on time, the 8:00 PM game would be played as originally scheduled (which is what transpired). Unfortunately, since the delayed 6:00 PM game was completed expeditiously, there were some unhappy players who insisted that the game be extended to nine innings. Please note that once a game is decided to be a certain length (e.g. seven innings), it cannot and will not be extended. If for example, we were playing a pickup game then sure, why not? However, a league cannot operate in such an inconsistent manner.
Game 3: A weeknight game and both teams had barely enough players and both teams were late; what a surprise! The game did not begin until 8:15 PM and it was therefore ………….SEVEN INNINGS. The game was completed by 9:30 PM and everyone had fun since it was a well played and fundamentally sound game. Some questioned the seven inning ruling so I directed them to the blog.
I recently addressed a question from one of our league players regarding the source for the seven inning rule. This rule was the outcome of an event that involved one of my teams from several years ago. The exact details are fuzzy, however, my team was either tied or winning during the last inning and the opposing team was rushing us onto the field and accused us of stalling (which was untrue). The game was finally called at 9:50 PM. The opposing team was very upset and accused my team of being babies who were afraid of losing. I calmly tried to explain that the 10 minute rule means that no new inning can begin after 9:50 PM so the game is over. The opposing team neither accepted my explanation nor the rule and proceeded to initiate a loud and vicious personal attack upon me. There were children present (including my own) and things became pretty heated. I had to be restrained (thanks Izzy) and it was very ugly. This was not an isolated incident; in fact it happened on a weekly basis. The seven inning rule has effectively wiped out this behavior (with the exception of those who are not familiar with it or choose to ignore it). Missing two innings and one at bat is a small price to pay, especially in a league which offers more games then most competing leagues.
Commish Speaks: Game Length
Commish Speaks: Rainouts