During an interview with Access Sportsnet Dodgers on Wednesday, Turner proposed a radical change to MLB’s extra-inning format that would limit the length of games and save potential wear and tear on pitchers arms.
The idea? A tie-breaking Home Run Derby that’s formatted similar to how the NHL uses shootouts to decide regular season games.
“This is my opportunity to push for a Home Run Derby in extra innings,” Turner told Access Sportnet Dodgers. “Instead of playing 17 innings, you get one extra inning, you play the 10th inning, and (if) no one scores, then you go to a Home Run Derby. You take each team’s three best hitters and you give them all five outs, and see who hits the most homers.
“You know, you wanna keep fans in the stands until the end of the game,” he continued. “I know when I go to hockey games, I actually enjoy watching shootouts. That keeps me in my seat, so maybe a Home Run Derby will do that as well.”
Similar suggestions have been floated in the past. In fact, the Eastern League All-Star game was decided by a shootout-style Home Run Derby back in 2015.
The Yahoo Sports crew has also kicked around ideas that would add a home run element and more star power to deciding games and playoff seeding.
None of those ideas have or likely ever will gain traction at the major-league level. If MLB ever does adjust the extra-inning format, it will probably look more like the minor league format, which begins each inning with a runner on second base. But to Turner’s credit, he’s not just floating an idea. He has a clear vision of a format that’s easy to understand and would put games on the shoulders of its best players.
Let’s say the Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels were tied after 10 innings. We’d have a chance to see Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts and Joc Pederson (or Justin Turner) go head-to-head with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani.
A Pittsburgh Pirates-Detroit Tigers derby, on the other hand, wouldn’t pack the same punch. But most fans would probably watch a Home Run Derby decide that game, while very few would stick around for a 17-inning marathon.
If nothing else, it’s a fun idea to think about. Especially now with MLB considering several options to play as close to a full schedule as possible if the season happens. As Turner notes, that could mean “multiple doubleheaders” each week and even “seven-inning doubleheaders.”
It’s inevitable that MLB would have to experiment with some aspects of the game. What those experiments are and how they catch on could be the most fascinating part of a shortened 2020 season.
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