Baseball, it is said, is unique among sports in that it is played without a clock. If a game is tied after the regulation 9 innings, a baseball game does not go into a timed overtime period, one with a set end. Instead, baseball has extra innings, which can extend as long as needed, with one team always emerging victorious, the other defeated. While extra innings a treat for fans, the view from the dugout is a little different.
"In my honest opinion, extra innings [stink]," catcher Tanner Murphy said. "You want to play 9 innings, or 8 ½ at home, and you want to win. Extra innings feels like a missed opportunity."
The IronBirds missed an opportunity to win in regulation during one such game on the last home stand. Winning handily in the late innings, the Birds watched the lead slip away in the eighth, and were forced to play on into the eleventh inning.
"It's tough, losing a lead late like that," said first baseman Trey Mancini. "But we knew we had to stay focused to win the game."
Fortunately for the IronBirds, they managed to win the game, 6-5, when Jared Breen touched home in the eleventh inning. Players agreed that losing an extra-inning game can be a grueling experience.
"When you play that long, you really want to win," catcher Jack Graham said. "It feels like you put in all that extra effort, and still come up empty." Added reliever David Richardson, "an extra inning loss just stings a little more."
Catching extra-inning games can be especially grueling. "Catching those long games is never fun," Graham added. "It can be tough on your body, especially your knees. But at the end of the day, if you win, I guess it is fun."
Despite the annoyances of extra innings, not a single player advocated removing them, and allowing a game to end in a tie.
"Extra innings are a part of baseball," Richardson said. "In other sports, like soccer, games can end in a tie.
One of the things that makes baseball great is that it never does." Despite the love for extra frames, the players had one minor complaint.
As one player said, "the games might go long, but we don't get paid overtime."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.