What would be baseball's best version of a penalty shootout?
What if tie games ended in a HR Derby?
Baseball is elegant in that teams play the same way until there is a winner -- no ties and no shootout-style endgame theatrics. If more innings are required to break a tie, more innings there will be. But what if, just for fun, baseball decided to replace traditional extra innings with a tie-breaker competition? What might that look like?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Home Run Derby
Here's the obvious one -- each team picks their most powerful slugger and the two face off to see who can hit more home runs on a given number of swings. This might be unfair, however, as it would greatly benefit the Red Sox and their newest acquisition:
2. Pitcher vs. Hitter: One-on-One
Much like in soccer's penalty shootout, each team selects their best five hitters and a pitcher. Each hitter takes one turn against the opposing team's pitcher, who throws the batter just one ball. If the batter swings and misses or hits the ball foul, it's a miss. If they put it into play, it's worth a point (no bunting). The team with the most points after five hitters wins. If there's a tie, you keep on going until one team misses.
3. Race Around the Bases
The two fastest players from each team must race around the bases, with the first player to touch home plate declared the winner. Again, teams not employing Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve and Billy Hamilton might take issue with this one:
4. Closest to the Pin
The players report out to their normal positions on the field and are each given a baseball. A regulation MLB trash can is placed behind home plate, and each player must throw the ball into the can from their position. (Catchers throw to a special trash can positioned at second base).
5. Bubblegum Bubble Contest
Each team nominates one player to blow the biggest bubble they can. The home plate umpire will then measure the bubbles and declare a winner:
6. Tom Emanski Hand Drills
Both teams select three players to play this drill and the last man standing earns the win:
The losing team gets a copy of this video:
After three outs are recorded, the half-inning might be over, but the drama is not. Obsessive fans around the world hang on these moments to see if they result in a moundball or not -- that is, if the ball comes to rest on the mound, or off. There's a bevy of websites that track this (including prizes for predicting moundballs or misses correctly). Until now the game is more of an inadvertent one -- players aren't generally trying for moundballs as they toss it moundward while running to the dugout. But why not repurpose it so they are, and settle ties that way?
For each inning played after the ninth, defending teams are forced to remove one player from the field. For example, in the 10th inning, teams are allowed 8 fielders. In the 11th, they're allowed 7 fielders, and so on.
9. Manager Ball
Each team selects one position player from the opposing team to be replaced by that team's manager. The game is then played until its conclusion, with the manager fielding and hitting for his position. Teams cannot select the pitcher.
Have any ideas of your own? Leave them in the comments or tweet us at @Cut4.