You know the problem with baseball? Games take too long. Sometimes, games can go into extra-innings and last for hours!

Fortunately, that won’t be the case at this year’s Olympics. The International Baseball Federation has that problem licked. New rule alert!

Each team’s at-bat in the 11th inning and beyond will begin with runners on first and second bases. Teams may start the 11th at any point in their batting order under format changes announced Friday by the International Baseball Federation and adopted in time for next month’s Beijing Games.

Federation president Harvey Schiller said the extra-innings change was adopted to save time.

“Extra-inning contests can bring about the most exciting results for players and fans, but such circumstances also make it difficult in the context of the Olympic program,” Schiller said. “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.”

This is a good start, but I still think baseball would benefit from trampolines and maybe some paintball guns.


21 Responses to “Olympic baseball rule change alert”

  1. For the record, Francoeur has seen some time in the 7 spot. But you’re exactly right, he has gotten far too much PT and is hitting too high in the lineup. It’s hurting McCann, who usually hits 5th, to have his buddy Frenchy behind him. McCann is known for having a good eye, but this year he already has 39 walks, just two shy of his career high. A guy hitting .300 needs some better protection than Francoeur.

    It’s a pretty small sample, but since I went to the trouble of compiling it, I’m gonna mention it. Tidbits from the five games that the Braves have played when Francoeur wasn’t in the lineup: The Braves have gone 3-2 over that span, scoring 20 runs. The replacement rightfielders (Gregor Blanco in the second game of a doubleheader against the Mets and Jason Perry for the four games that Francoeur was sent down to AA) have gone 2 for 20 and left nine men on base. Seven of those runners left on were by Jason Perry in the 17 inning victory against the Astros. No walks, four strikeouts, no runs scored, and one RBI. So the production has been paltry in right no matter who’s been there.

  2. Paul Moro says:

    I’ll be the party pooper. I really think that batting orders are not nearly as important as we think. I tried out Baseball Musings’ lineup analysis for some numbers. With Francoeur batting sixth, the Braves project to score 4.879 runs per game. If he had been put into the #8 spot all year, they would have scored 4.885 runs per game. So that’s a difference of .006 runs per game. Less than a run over 162 games. Take it for what you will.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Well, I’m not sure quite how BM (really? that’s an unfortunate acronym) calculates those things, but I know that JD Drew hitting in front of Manny Ramirez has been much more productive than JD Drew hitting in front of Jason Varitek this year. People in Boston are all talking about how Drew has “emerged” as a productive hitter, and how he’s “stepped up” with Papi injured. But really, I think he’s just benefiting from having a guy with a .312 career average behind him, rather than the guy who is hitting .219 this year.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Sarah, the program takes into account OBP and SLG for each player (and nothing else) and then projects, based on those two stats, how many runs are expected to be produced. It then tries out every possible lineup combination and spits out the best and worst lineups possible. Of course, it’s not perfect. There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t get taken into account. But it’s a good, clean indicator that levels the playing field.

  5. Coley Ward says:

    What if Francoeur had been in triple-A, where he probably belongs? How many runs would the Braves have scored with a different outfielder? I’ve gotta believe that if Atlanta took Frenchy’s .198 average with runners in scoring position and replaced it with somebody who hit even .250 with RISP, that would make a big difference.

  6. Paul Moro says:

    Using, say, Greg Norton in place of Francoeur gets you 4.934 runs per game. Roughly speaking, that’s about nine runs more per 162 games.

    And to answer the “.250 with RISP” part, with the same number of ABs, a .250 hitter would have hit 27 hits – 6 more than Francoeur hit in those situations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should just go and tack on 8 or 9 runs to the Braves offense in this theoretical scenario. In order to do that, you’d have to take into account how those batting behind him performed following his ABs too. Just because Francoeur didn’t drive them in, doesn’t meant that no one did. And with RISP with 2 outs, he did hit .250.

  7. Paul Moro says:

    Because there’s nothing more exciting than a team that wins the gold medal in the 10th inning with a sac bunt followed by a sac fly.

  8. Nick Kapur says:

    Yeah, good point, Paul. I mean, doesn’t that just guarantee that every team will sac bunt?

    Also, the grammar of “each team’s at-bat in the 11th inning and beyond” sounds weird to me. It sounds like even if you ground into a double play or something, they will put new runners back on first and second for the every batter, but I don’t think that’s what they mean.

  9. Nick Kapur says:

    Also, what’s with the starting anywhere you want in your batting order? That is insane. And insanely boring. I wish they would just do what the Japanese do and have all games become ties after the 12th inning. At least you’re not messing with the strategy then.

  10. Sarah Green says:

    I would seriously rather have the trampolines and paintball guns.

  11. are we sure the Federation didn’t make these rules under threat of Chinese prison time?

    between this and all the other crap I’ve been hearing about – like the officials doing a “gender check” on the athletes – the Beijing Olympics are going to be the most f-ed up Olympics, and I can’t wait to watch.

  12. also – who is on the U.S. Olympic baseball team?

  13. Paul Moro says:

    Lyndsay, the US team is comprised of ragamuffins, tramps, vagrants, and tatterdemalions. Basically, prospects like Taylor Teagarden, Matt LaPorta, and Nate Schierholtz mixed in with never-were type guys like Mike Koplove, Brandon Knight, Jayson Nix and Terry Tiffee.

  14. well, I for one think it will be QUITE entertaining. especially if there’s basebrawls. I still don’t know how Olympic teams can play eachother in two different languages.

    Paul, I hope there are some roustabouts also included on the U.S. team – wouldn’t be fair without. also – Molina brothers.

  15. I just like that picture. old men in baseball pants are funny. I still don’t understand why they are the only coaches in professional sports who must wear the same attire as their players. it serves no purpose – I don’t see Joe Torre jumping in to play right field any time soon. I think they look absolutely ridiculous. and if I were Bud Selig, gaddangit that’s the first rule I’d change!

  16. Olympics and baseball – the marriage of these two things leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. Here’s why:

    Baseball is a seriously up-and-coming sport in the UK (I am English although now a resident of the Republic of Ireland). Baseball has a HUGE following in the UK and has an ever-growing fanbase. There are teams and leagues springing up everywhere and the GB team has done pretty well in recent European competitions.

    So what was one of the first things the Olympic committee did having secured the 2012 games in London? That’s right – scrap baseball from those particular games.

    Now I know this rant doesn’t relate to the above story and I guess some/a lot of you won’t really care about the state of British baseball but I do and this was a perfect opportunity to expose more of the British public to the wonderful game that is baseball as well as letting the rest of the world (America in particular) know that we love your game very much and are serious about setting up proper roots for the development of the sport.

    As I say, sorry for the rant but I just couldn’t vent the frustration there.

  17. Paul Moro says:

    Jon, I’m with you. I’m an unapologetic anglophile who lived for a few months in Bristol. The entire time I was there, I really missed the game. But there were a few Brits I met who were genuinely interested in baseball and would pepper me with questions. The interest is there and things like the World Baseball Classic isn’t enough to drum up international interest. Part of the problem is that big-league players aren’t allowed to leave the team to play in the Olympics. But honestly, I can’t blame them. There’s too much money invested in these guys for them to just up and leave to play games off the MLB schedule during a playoff push.

    Japan is fielding a professional team, which is nice to see, I suppose. But it’s kind of odd if you think about it.

  18. Sarah Green says:

    Maybe some day we’ll have a real “world” series (you know, where it’s not just the US teams and one team from Canada). The problem with the WBC might be solved if US baseball went back to a shorter schedule. 162 games isn’t enough for me, but I guess I could learn to live with 150. Sigh.

    Here’s a funny story about Sarah (another raging Anglophile) in the UK: I went up to a pushcart where the vendor was selling soccer scarves. I wanted to get one for my cousin, but I don’t really know anything about the different English teams, so I asked which team’s scarf I should by. “Oh, Man United, definitely,” said the vendor. I ponied up the dough. And when I got back to my hotel, I got totally ripped by everyone for buying the scarf of English soccer’s New York Yankees. And unfortunately, my cousin knows a lot more about “footy” than I do, and he was equally repulsed.

  19. Sarah Green says:

    Plus those USA uniforms are HIDEOUS.

    America always has such unattractive Olympic uniforms and warmups. Can’t we get Ralph Lauren to whip up something nice? Or maybe Calvin Klein?

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