Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Baseball Update and Rule Explanation

Uh oh, everybody: USA lost to Korea in the Olympic Opener. Both sides fought hard to the end, when Korea's walk-off sac fly in the 9th secured an 8-7 victory. The inexperience of the US team was obvious, with botched pick offs as well as offline throws to the plate. The wacky extra inning rule was almost used. I will explain shortly what it is. I understand that in the Olympics, with teams having to play on many consecutive days, 16+ inning games can crush both the winning and losing teams. But the new-fangled rule that pretty much limits games to 11 or 12 innings seems a bit absurd. The procedure for games tied entering the 11th inning goes as follows: both managers can pick two consecutive players from the batting order to place on 1st and 2nd base. Then, the batter following those two leads off the inning. According to an article published by (, in this situation, the batting team has historically averaged 1.63 runs/inning and scores at least one run 66% of the time. With such a high probability of scoring, the ties will be broken in only a couple of innings. I personally think this is a bad policy. I hate to say it but I'd rather see a tie than a game decided by the tie-breaking rule. Back to team USA. Don't worry: since 4 out of 8 teams advance from pool play, which consists of 7 games, USA still has a good chance of playing in a medal game. They play next today against the Netherlands at 10:30 pm.