If Major League Baseball holds a season this year, it promises to be very different than normal. And with opening day already pushed back to at least mid-May, the biggest change will be undoubtedly be the schedule.
All parties involved, led by the league and players association, want to play as many games as possible. But playing a full 162-game schedule is all but inconceivable. Even playing 100 games is looking less likely by the week. The All-Star game, scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium, is in danger of cancellation.
If a season is possible at all, it likely will include few off days and frequent doubleheaders. It'll be a sprint, not baseball's typical marathon.
Justin Turner has an idea to limit the toll on players: a home run derby to decide a winner when a game is tied after 10 innings. The Dodgers third baseman broached the idea in an interview on SportsNet LA on Wednesday.
"Instead of playing 17 innings, you get one extra inning, you play the 10th inning, and [if] no one scores, then you go to a home run derby," Turner said. "You take each team's three best hitters and you give them all five outs and see who hits the most homers."
Turner defended his concept on Twitter on Thursday, emphasizing that it would only be for this season to prevent pitching staffs from decimation in a truncated schedule.
Turner added that a coach would throw pitches during the derby.
Baseball has already been flirting with rules in recent years to prevent games from going deep into extra innings.
The World Baseball Classic was the first notable competition to offer a different set of rules in extra innings; in the tournament, held every four years, teams start each inning after the 10th with runners on first and second base. Last season, MLB announced a similar change for the All-Star game: Teams would begin each inning after the ninth with a runner on second base and players would be allowed to reenter the game as pinch-runners.
But Turner's solution - a home run derby - would be a new one. It's reminiscent of the NHL penalty shootout, though the shootout's loser is awarded a point in the standings while the winner receives two. Baseball doesn't have a point system. In Turner's plan, there would be a winner and a loser - and a dose of fresh excitement currently only seen during the All-Star break.