Time To Give Up The Ghost?

The Cubs-Pirates game on August 24th went to the tenth tied at three. The Cubs won 5-4 in ten innings. However, this only happened because both teams were given a “free” runner to start their half of the inning and the Cubs scored two runs while the Pirates were able to only score the “free” runner. This runner was added in 2020 as a COVID-19 protection to keep opposing players socially distanced as long as possible and has also been referred to as a ghost runner, among other things.

I did not agree with my fellow writer Gaurav Garg who hated the rule even in 2020. I thought it was a good rule because the deeper rooted reason the league added it was to shorten up games that went to extra innings in order to keep the attention of younger fans. However, the CDC has long since stopped advising social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, I am ready to call for the rule to be abolished.

Why, you ask? Simple—many extra inning games still go past the twelfth inning and last over four and a half hours. Let’s take the Dodgers-Padres game on August 25, 2021, it went 16 innings and lasted 5 hours and 49 minute. Disclaimer: I did not watch that game, I am only basing my thoughts on the box score. While this game was tied at one going into the ninth inning the seemingly unstoppable, the Dodgers won 5-3–but six of those eight total runs scored in the fifteenth and sixteenth innings.

The game probably would have went sixteen innings without the ghost runner too. Without the ghost runner the outcome likely would have been the same… except it would have been a 3-2 final in 16 innings. At the end of the day, the ghost runner did not keep the game shorter and younger fans almost definitely lost their attention by the time the game was in the eleventh inning.

As a fan, there is only one way I would ever except the addition of a ghost runner to speed up the end of games. The rule would have go into effect starting in the thirteenth and be used in playoff games too.

With that, there is also the fact that the rule is not used in the playoffs. If you are going to add rules to a game, no matter what the reason for adding them is, they have to be used in all games no matter what the magnitude of the game is.

If you cannot play with them, root for them!

Share This Article