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MLB All-Star Game to be decided by home run derby if tied after 9 innings

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LOS ANGELES. Last week, Pete Alonso was at the Visitor’s Club in Atlanta’s Trueist Park when an attendant asked a cryptic question: Would the New York Mets slugger take a call from Atlanta Braves skipper Brian Snitker?

“Why is the opposing coach calling me?” Alonso remembered how he thought.

He quickly found out. Snitker was preparing to lead the National League All-Star team, and he had an important issue involving the first fan-friendly rule change.

If the score had been tied after nine innings in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, Snitker asked, would Alonso have entered the new home run derby decider that would decide the winning team?

“I’ll be your boyfriend,” Alonso told him. “I think it’s fun. I think it will be a great event if it happens.”

Alonso was unaware of the new format, which saw three players from each league take three hits to determine the final score. He wasn’t the only one who found out what might be on deck.

“Is it really going to happen?” Slugger Yankee Giancarlo Stanton said. “This is news to me.”

Snitker also selected Atlanta’s Ronald Acoon Jr. and Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber for the NL, while Houston’s Dusty Baker selected Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez and Ty France along with Houston’s Kyle Tucker for the AL.

Since the Home Run Derby has always been popular on the night before the game, Major League Baseball decided to make a flashy presentation part of the Midsummer Classic.

And, no doubt, many fans will now be rooting for a draw, just to see another run of long balls.

The players too.

“They do it? That would be fun,” Dodgers baseman Freddie Freeman said. “We have Pete Alonso and Ronald, so I like our chances.”

The provision paving the way for innovation was buried in Schedule 13 of the Memorandum of Understanding that settled the March 10 MLB lockout.

Alonso has 24 home runs, third in the NL, and won the Home Run Derby twice in a row ahead of Monday’s competition.

The tiebreaker rules, obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, state that “each league All-Star team manager must select three players from their team’s active roster who have agreed to participate in the All-Star Game tiebreaker, if applicable; one substitute from their active roster who has agreed to participate in an All-Star tiebreak if required due to an injury when choosing a tiebreak; the coach of the All-Star team who will lead the batting practice during the All-Star tie-break; and the All-Star Catcher, who will catch the ball during the All-Star Game tie-break.”

Play will be briefly suspended after the ninth inning “to allow field attendants to reconfigure the field to suit a tiebreak arrangement.”

In a tie-break, “each player may serve an unlimited number of serves, regardless of their total number of swings. Players on each team may bat in any order during an All-Star tiebreak; however, on the condition that batters from each team must alternate. “

As a visiting team, the AL sent a hitter first, with players from each league rotating.

“After all six tiebreakers have completed their backswings, the team with the most home runs will be declared the winner of the All-Star Game,” the rules state. “In the event that teams have the same number of home runs after a tiebreak, each manager must select one tiebreaker to play in another round in which each team’s tiebreaker scores three hits to break the tie. The -head format will continue until the draw is broken.”

Three batters selected by the league for a tie-break may not be substituted unless they are injured or to protect a player’s health.

The All-Star Game has gone 13 extra innings since its inception in 1933. The last two times were 10 innings in 2017 in Miami and in 2018 in Washington. Teams running short of pitchers have become a problem as managers try to get the most pitchers into the game by the ninth inning, and a 2002 game in Milwaukee ended in a 7–7, 11 innings tie with no available pitchers left.

A couple of years ago, MLB was going to try out an auto runner at second base if the All-Star Game went for extras.

Thanks to Snitker, Alonso was ready to redefine who would win the All-Star Game.

“He should have told me about the Home Run Derby stuff because I didn’t know about it,” Alonso said.

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