Tie Games in Baseball


Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Sure, there is the 2002 All-Star Game. People are still complaining about that. (I am nearly alone in thinking it a perfectly reasonable response to the facts on the ground.)

    For the fans at home who don’t remember, the teams were tied going in to the eleventh inning and both sides had run out of pitchers. So the general thinking was, it’s the All-Star Game and no one wants to risk an injury for a game that isn’t for the standings. They didn’t use the All-Star Game for anything other than itself back then, not even opening-field advantage in the World Series like they do now. So Commissioner Bud Selig and the respective team managers gather in the middle of the eleventh out on the field, and decide that if the home team (the NL in that case) didn’t score a winning run in the inning, the game would called as a tie.

    I grudgingly concede that for a meaningless-other-than-itself All-Star Game, that was a least-bad call.

    But for a game that counts? Use the third baseman on the mound if you have to. Seems to me that part of the point is that players are supposed to fatigue and tire until a mistake gets made and one side slips up. But to be a major league baseball pitcher these days is to sign up for a job voluntarily dislocating your own shoulder every four or five days, because that’s what you need to do in order to pitch a ball that fast. So conserving the star pitchers to win another day is part of the long-term strategy that teams should be required to confront and come up with solutions to.

    Ties, after all, are deeply unsatisfying. Sport is about striving to win. Alas that there must be a loser, but a loser is necessary in order that there be a winner.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I totally agree about this in baseball – and I speak as the last pitcher available on our roster (nominally the shortstop) back in my playing days, who had to throw back-to-back complete games (albeit with a week in between) of over 150 pitches each (fun fact – in the second, tougher, game, I got zero swinging strikes while allowing 13 runs).

      In other sports, particularly football and futbol, I’m not so sure. After 120 minutes, the injury risk to exhausted people is just too high for me (or for gridiron, 75 minutes and 90 plays). In baseball, the roster size and the fact that the field players have had it relatively easy make it more reasonable to substitute the battery.Report

    • But for a game that counts? Use the third baseman on the mound if you have to.

      Which does happen in games that go long enough that the bullpen is exhausted, or are such blowouts that it’s not worth exhausting it. There’s almost always someone who pitched in college or high school or the minors that’s willing to take one for the team. Of course, when the dumbest player in baseball did that, he managed to hurt his arm badly enough to require Tommy John surgery to fix it. (Need another clue? Playing the outfield, he once gave up a home run by letting it bounce off his head and over the fence.)Report