Most of the major US sports don’t have a tie as one of the possible outcomes.
Other than soccer, NFL is the only league where the ties can happen, but even there, they’re extremely rare.
Obviously, the US fans, particularly at the pro level, want to know the winner after the game has ended.
Still, when two teams play an even game, the regular time will end with an even score,
For those cases, most sports have introduced overtime to decide the winner and baseball is no different.
So, the answer to the question “is there overtime in baseball” is yes, although the baseball version of overtime is a bit different than in other sports.
For starters, it’s not called overtime, but extra innings. Below, I’ll explain what exactly are the extra innings and how do they work.
Is There Overtime In Baseball and How Does It Work?
Regular baseball games at the pro level last for 9 innings.
Lower level competitions often feature fewer regular innings, such as high-school and collegiate leagues where the games consist of 7 innings or the Little League where the number is 6.
The winner is determined by who has more runs on the scoreboard after the final inning.
But, if the score is tied at the end of the regular innings, extra innings are played.
The most common format of extra innings, involves each team getting a chance to bat.
The away team bats in the top half of the inning while the home team gets the opportunity in the bottom half.
The extra innings last until one team has more runs than the other in the inning.
In case a home team takes a lead, it wins and the rest of the inning doesn’t have to be played.
Baseball Overtime Rules
The general rules of the game, including batting order and substitute players and pitchers, also apply in the overtime.
This forces managers to carefully calculate their substitutions during the regular game time to have enough players ready for the extra innings.
If a team is unable to field 9 players, the rules call for forfeiture.
Before the 2020 season, MLB introduced a set of new rules due to the condensed schedule in the pandemic.
One of these rules refers to the extra innings.
The New Extra Innings Rule
Now, the 10th inning and each inning that may potentially follow start with a runner already on the second base.
It’s a rule previously tested in the minors and the league decided to introduce it mainly with player’s health in mind.
Overtime games in a condensed schedule take too much toll on players, especially the pitchers.
With this rule, the MLB hopes to shorten the games and keep players fresh for the next day.
There are some reports that the league could modify this rule for the 2022 season, by not having anyone on the base before the 11th or 12th inning.
Can a Baseball Game Go On Forever?
Theoretically, it’s possible that a baseball game never ends.
As the game can’t end in a tie, the teams play until one of them scores more runs in the extra inning and breaks the tie.
The game will be played until this happens.
In reality, however, the games eventually end, but there are examples of games played for almost 10 hours and involving more than 20 innings.
Still, there’s one rare instance when the baseball game can end in a tie.
It can happen due to the inclement weather or, in the early days of the sport, darkness. Those games officially count towards the statistics but don’t impact the standings.
But, if a game doesn’t have playoff implications or two teams don’t meet again during the season, it may be declared a tie.
What is the Longest Baseball Game Ever Played?
The title of the longest baseball game ever played belongs to the Triple-A International League matchup from April 18, 1981.
The game was played at the McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket as the home Pawtucket Red Sox hosted the Rochester Red Wings.
The Red Sox eventually came out as a 3-2 winner after the two teams played the incredible 33 innings.
32 innings took place on April 18 and 19, while the final inning was finished on June 23.
The total game time amounted to 8 hours and 25 minutes.
The Longest MLB Game in History
The longest game by innings in MLB history happened on May 1, 1920, at Braves Field in Boston.
It was a National League duel between the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Robins. The game last for 26 innings and was eventually called a 1-1 tie due to darkness.
However, with the rapid pace of play at the time, those 26 innings were finished in only 3 hours and 50 minutes.
If we look at the time elapsed, the longest MLB game is the Chicago White Sox vs Milwaukee Brewers matchup played on May 8 and 9, 1984.
The White Sox won 7-6 after 25 innings of play. Overall, the game took 8 hours and 6 minutes to finish.
Interestingly, on the second day, two teams played a regularly scheduled game after this one.
So, they played 34 innings in two days.
As there’s no clock in baseball, regular games usually last longer than in any other major sport.
Extra innings only add to that time, often making a game seem like a marathon. Lately, the MLB has been working on shortening the games.
The reasons for this are mainly the network TV schedules and the reluctance of the younger fans to watch games this long.
One of the ideas the league is working on includes shortening the overtime played when the game is tied.
However, the extra innings often bring a whole new dimension to the game. They increase the excitement and bring out a whole new strategic approach.
A lot of fans enjoy this immensely and wouldn’t have the games end any other way.