Regular-Season Games Dropped by MLB Ghost Runner—And a Possible Target in NBA OT

The Kings and Clippers played the seventh double overtime game of the NBA season last Friday night.

But that won’t be remembered by those who stayed up late on both coasts watching the Kings’ wild 176-175 win, which was the second-highest scoring game in history behind the Pistons’ 186-184 win triple overtime win over Nuggets on December 13, 1983;

The excitement expressed on Twitter dates back to the days when people were excited on Twitter about good things and seemed to be shared by those on the court, with Russell Westbrook – making his Clippers debut – making a “crazy” game for both teams. be well rested from the All-Star Break.

“From a fan’s perspective, I can see how this game would be a lot of fun to watch,” Kings coach Mike Brown said.

Whether from the couch or the arena/stadium, it’s always fun to watch something super rare or unprecedented. So of course the NBA might want to make sure last Friday’s marathon offensive display never happens again.

Per Bleacher Report, the NBA is considering implementing a “target score” — also known as the “Elam Ending” — for overtime games. The concern seems to be broadcasts that exceed the specified window as well as the workload for the players. Six players were on the court for at least 40 minutes last Friday, while Westbrook played more than 39 minutes.

Unfortunately, this appears to be the NBA’s attempt to match Major League Baseball by eliminating the remote possibility of seeing a uniquely memorable incident during an otherwise mundane regular season game. The Kings-Clippers marathon came 11 days after MLB’s Joint Competition Committee voted to make permanent the rule that places an automatic runner on second base at the start of every extra inning since the 2020 season ravaged by COVID-19.

While the idea in 2020 – to finish the game as soon as possible and minimize interaction in the midst of a pandemic – was noble and understandable, it is an overreaction in more normal times. Jay Jaffe of Fangraphs noted the average shutout game was just over 11 innings in 2019, when only 2.3 percent of games lasted 12 innings or more.

At least that’s more regular than a double-overtime game in the NBA, which also happened just seven times last season — less than half of one percent of all games.

Eliminating the possibility, no matter how small, of seeing an epic multi-hour game is another way to minimize a regular season that’s already drastically shrunk in terms of importance. The NBA has well and truly entered the era of “load management,” in which players routinely pull all-nighters. Just four players played in all 82 games last season, down from 21 players during the previous full season in 2018-19.

And the idea of ​​chasing regular-season greatness seems to have evaporated with the 2015-16 Warriors, who posted a record 73 wins but lost to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Just five teams have won at least 60 games in the last five full regular seasons, and none are on pace to do so this year.

The Major League Baseball regular season, once the most meaningful long-distance contest in sports, is also trending toward irrelevance. The playoff field expanded to 12 teams last year when the 111-win Dodgers were eliminated in the LDS while the 86-win Phillies won the NL pennant. And just 15 players have played in at least 160 games over the past two seasons, up from 23 in 2018-19.

The long-term implementation of the ghost runner is another way to take the meaning out of the regular season, and a blow to those who like to walk onto the field or turn on the TV in hopes of seeing something they’ve never seen before.

The longest game in baseball history, the 33-in International League marathon between Pawtucket and Rochester in 1981, was the subject of the 2011 book “Bottom of the 33rd.” A line score screen was painted at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket to commemorate game. Google

Searches for “Brewers White Sox 25 innings” and “Mets Cardinals 25 innings” will bring up dozens of long-form stories looking back at the two biggest MLB games of the last 100 years.

Now that the novelty has worn off, will anyone remember how a game with extra participation ends in 2023 and beyond? The Kings-Clippers slugfest could inspire a 3,000-word feature in a few decades, just as the record-setting Pistons-Nuggets game did on in 2005. Will anyone remember a random game determined by the Elam Ending? Almost certainly not, but at least there won’t be double overtime games ending beyond the scheduled broadcast window.

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