The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) announced recently that it is introducing an extra-inning tie-breaker format that will be tested at a youth event this week and implemented officially in the baseball competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The format is a first in international baseball competition and differs significantly from the currently used extra-inning model. The new rule calls for traditional baseball extra-inning rules to be used in the 10th frame, but all contests that are tied after 10 innings will compete under a new format. Beginning with the 11th inning and each inning needed thereafter, base runners will be placed on first and second base with no outs. All other rules of baseball will remain in effect.
The new rules will be taken into effect for all tournaments under the IBAF competition umbrella moving forward, which includes the IBAF Men’s and Women’s Baseball World Cup which are scheduled for September 9-27, 2009 in Europe and August 24-29, 2008 in Matsuyama, Japan, respectively.
Baseball and softball are making their last appearance for a while, after the International Olympic Committee voted to eliminate the sports from the 2012 London Games. Both sports are working to be reinstated for the 2016 Olympics.
“The upcoming Beijing Olympic competition may be our last unless we are successful in adding the sport back to the Olympic program for the 2016 Games,” said IBAF President Dr. Harvey W. Schiller. “We must demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee 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.”
Dr. Schiller continued, saying the change is both a positive and necessary step for the sport of baseball.“One of the unique aspects of our game is that it has no time limit. 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. Delays cause scheduling and logistical nightmares. Planned security, transportation, drug testing, broadcasts, and entertainment are just a few of the activities that may be seriously affected,” Dr. Schiller continued.
Many former and current professional players and administrators from baseball federations around the world provided guidance on the rule change. The new tie-breaker will be tested beginning at the IBAF “AAA” World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada, which is the premiere international tournament for players 18-and-under.
The new extra-inning format will allow for each manager to select two consecutive batters from anywhere in their respective lineup to start the 11th on first and second base. The next batter in the lineup would then be the batter that starts the inning at the plate. Once those players/runners are determined for the 11th inning, the order of any subsequent innings will be determined by how the previous inning ended. That is, if the 11th inning ends with the #6 hitter having the last official at bat, then the 12th inning begins the #7 hitter at bat, and the #5 hitter at 2B and the #6 hitter at first base.
“Given these extraordinary times for baseball, I believe this will be an exciting shift for the sport,” Dr. Schiller said.
Extra-Inning Rule (to be added to the IBAF Competition Norms):If the game remains tied after the completion of ten (10) innings, the following procedures will be implemented during extra innings:
• Each team will begin the 11th inning (and any subsequent necessary extra innings) with a player on first and second, no outs.
• To begin the 11th inning, representatives from each team will meet at home plate and will indicate (at the same time) to the home plate umpire where the team wishes to begin the batting order. That is, the teams have the option of beginning the 11th inning anywhere in the existing batting order that was in effect when the 10th inning ended. Note that this is not a new lineup (just potentially a different order), and it may very well be the same lineup that ended the 10th inning. The rationale for doing so is to ensure that both teams have an equal chance at having what theyconsider to be their best hitters and base runners in a position to score in the 11th inning.
• For example, if the team decides to have the #1 hitter in the lineup hit first, then the #8 hitter will be placed at 2B and the #9 hitter will be placed at 1B. Furthermore, if the team decides to have the #3 hitter in the lineup hit first, then the #1 hitter would be at 2B and the #2 hitter would be at1B.
• Once those players/runners are determined for the 11th inning, the order of any subsequent innings will be determined by how the previous inning ended. That is, if the 11th inning ends withthe #6 hitter having the last plate appearance (PA), then the 12th inning begins the #7 hitter at bat, and the #5 hitter at 2B and the #6 hitter at first base.
• With the exception of beginning the inning with runners on 1B and 2B with no one out, all other “Official Rules of Baseball” and “IBAF Competition Norms” will remain in effect during extra innings required to determine a winner.
• No player re-entry is permitted during extra innings.
• The traditional system of the visiting team hitting in the top of the inning and the home team hitting in the bottom of the inning will remain in effect until a winner is determined.
Note: Neither Bill Veeck or any member of his family has anything to do with this ruling.