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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Free substitution: caddy, designated runner, courtesy runner.

I have been advocating free substitution in baseball for a while.

Here are some silly examples of how managers have tried to creatively substitute.

1. Caddy: Ross Moschitto played in 96 games (28 PA) in 1965 and 14 games (11 PA) in 1967 for the Yankees and never started.  He was known as Mickey Mantle's caddy, often replacing the aging Mantle in center field in 1965.  Moschitto never attempted to steal a base. Wouldn't it have been better if Moschitto could have shared the duty with Mantle, playing the field with Mantle batting?

2. Designated Runner:  Herb Washington (1974 92 games, 1975 13 games) was a sprint champion hired by the Oakland As as a pinch running specialist, a designated runner (DR).  Boston started it's historic comeback against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS by having pinch runner Dave Roberts steal second base in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera and score the tieing run on a single; it was the only steal attempt by Roberts in that series.  The Yankees had their own pinch runner specialist in Homer Bush in 1998 and briefly in 2004.

3. Courtesy Runners (retrosheet.org):

Until 1950, a courtesy runner was allowed for a player if that player had been injured and at the moment couldn't continue. The original player then stayed in the game defensively in the next inning, although sometimes the injured player did not return. If the replacement runner was already in the game, we still count this as a courtesy runner. Most often the courtesy runner was already in the lineup.

This one is amazing.  MLB players actually left games and were allowed to return.  And the earth continued to rotate on its axis, the sun stayed where it belongs and baseball did not explode.

So what the heck?  Obviously, free substitution is a viable reform.  Baseball fans and MLB, Inc. need to leap into the current millenium and transform baseball into a much more dynamic sport with rules more in line with those of football and basketball.

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