“What we really need,” said the anonymous baseball executive, “is a new rule so absurd, so egregious, that people will forget how much they hate the designated hitter.”
All extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning. So, usually, the guy who made the last out in the previous inning or a pinch runner for that guy. If the placed runner scored, it’s considered an unearned run.
The argument for this, as with so many other gratuitous tweaks and subtweaks, is to speed the game along because it’s Just Too Damn Long. I’m not buying it. There are, of course, people who will defend this sort of thing:
[I]t almost ensures that the first action in extra innings will be a sacrifice bunt to get that runner to third, often followed by an intentional walk to set up a double play, and bunts and intentional walks are dumb and unexciting most of the time. That said, it’s not going to come up so often that it’ll upset me so greatly. And heck, maybe we’ll get some fun out of it.
Of course, they’ve already ruined any drama in the intentional walk by reducing it to a mere signal: not one of those pitches even has to be thrown anymore, making it dumber and even less exciting.