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A minor league will replace extra innings with home run derby as baseball continues to act like cool new stepdad

April 27, 2021

Jason Miller

Somewhere in the past five years, baseball realized it was no longer connecting with the younger crowd and has tried its damndest to become a cool new stepdad. DH in the National League? Hey, I get it. Taxi squads and expanded rosters? Join the party guys; the more the merrier! New Nike uniforms? Look, I was thinking about switching up the ol’ wardrobe with a visit to the Gap myself!

Granted, like all new stepdads, there’s a difference in what they say and what they do. Like, I don’t know, rolling out a marketing campaign celebrating bat flips, only to then suspend players for flipping bats. But dammit guys, they’re trying!

But sometimes stepdads try a little too hard. Or, more likely, they reach the point where they give the greenlight to anything because they’ve run out of good ideas and just desperately want us to be their friend. Which is the only interpretation for why the Pioneer League, a partner league for Major League Baseball, is replacing extra innings this season with home run derby. Because what the hell, right?

From a Pioner League press release:

To avoid the excessive strain on our pitching staffs, the Pioneer Baseball League will not have extra innings, but rather will employ a first-of-its-kind “Knock Out” rule that resolves tied games with a head-to-head, “sudden death” home run duel. Under the rule, each team designates a hitter who receives 5 pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit. If still tied after the first “Knock Out” round, another hitter is selected for a sudden-death home run face-off until a winner is declared.

That sound you just heard was every old-school baseball fan having a collective heart attack.

The Pioneer League announced several other changes, including designated pinch-hitter and pinch-runner rules. And to an extent, what baseball is doing is admirable. Then again, sometimes you have to know who you are. The baseball we grew up with had a Bud Heavy in hand and called up the drive-time radio talk show to complain how sabermetrics were ruining the game. That baseball wasn’t perfect ... but this new baseball, with its spiked seltzer and love of exit velocity rate, it just feels weird, you know?

But mom is excited and the rest of the kids dig it, so we’ll give it a try.