KC Royals: Forget a runner on second, give us back free baseball

KC Royals (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KC Royals (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals fans likely are looking forward to the 2021 season, but maybe not all the rules coming with it.

When the 2020 season began, KC Royals fans knew things were going to be different. There were plenty of precautions in place, schedules were shortened, there wouldn’t be as many series against teams other than regular rivals, and there were also no fans in the stands.

Some of the biggest changes, though, came in the form of new rules for games. There were lots of safety protocols in place, such as no spitting and players weren’t able to do as much high fiving and things of that nature. There was the addition of seven inning double headers to ease the strain of rescheduled games and limited days off.

Then, there was the runner on second rule. Once a game went into extra innings, a runner was put at second. It was an advantage of sorts, but more so a way to speed up the games.

For a team like the Royals, this rule could have been seen as a big help. Kansas City is known to employ speed and baserunning is something they focus on. While the runner on second was typically the last out of the previous inning, a team like the Royals could put one of their speedy bench players in and turn things around quickly.

It was possibly understandable in a season like 2020, but by the time everything finally got approved to play, many were likely happy with any rule changes as long as it meant the season was going to happen.

Now that things seem to be moving back to a normal season, though, something like the runner on the second rule just doesn’t seem to fit. Unfortunately, it seems it will still be around in 2021.

The seven inning double headers made more sense last year, though the reasoning could be seen to support it while safety protocols are still in place. It’s a rule that shouldn’t be around long term, but if in place to try and ease the pain of what could be a large amount of rescheduled games due to COVID issues, it does make some sense.

The runner on second rule, though, doesn’t fit the bill. While it could be seen as an advantage or disadvantage for some, likely dependent on which team benefits at the moment, in reality, it’s taking away a large portion of the game, the extra-inning tactics required to win in those moments.

While I may be alone in this, I enjoy seeing a game go into extra innings and then some. It’s always been “free baseball” to me. It’s interesting to see how teams switch up their plan, which pitchers they use, and in some instances, seeing position players stepping onto the mound to take some stress off the bullpen.

Extra innings games always take their toll on the team and the bullpen especially, but it’s an added depth to the game that separates those who can take the extra step to win, and those who can’t.

While the runner on second rule will be here for the 2021 season, here is to hoping it doesn’t go beyond that. It’s time to get back to normal baseball and letting the players play the game they love without all the extra rules.

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The runner on second rule will be active in 2021. While there could still be some longer extra-inning games, it’s likely that fans won’t get a lot of free innings this season.

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