“No Mercy”, Please … In The World Baseball Classic

Team Japan won a very convincing 14-2 victory over Team Korea in the first game of WBC action today [March 7, 2009] at 5:00 a.m. ET, before an overflowing sold out crowd at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

The crowd was really into this game, as Japan took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first; and, then, Korea battled back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to cut Japan’s lead to 3-2.  

But, Japan broke the game wide open in the top of the 2nd inning, scoring five runs, giving them an 8-2 lead. Korea still had eight innings to make a comeback in this game, or did they?

Well, this is the World Baseball Classic, and for some reason the rules of our great American Pastime have been changed to include a “so-called” Mercy Rule that states …

If a team is ahead by at least 10 runs after seven innings, that team is declared the winner, and the game is “over”.

Even better, if a team is fortunate enough to score at least 15 runs in the first five innings of a game, then, the game is stopped at that point, and that team is declared the winner.  

Now, this may sound merciful to some, but as our great American philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said, “the game ain’t over, ’till it’s over”.

Baseball is the perfect game because it is not limited by “time” or a “time clock”.

Theoretically, a baseball game can be played for an infinitive amount of time, into infinity.

The rules of the game state: Two teams play for nine innings each. A winner is declared when one team scores more runs the other team over nine innings of play; and, also, gets the other team “out” 27 times [of course, unless there is a rain-out, in which the team leading the game after five innings is declared the winner. I am also opposed to this rule, as I think the game should be resumed at the point of the rain delay the next time both these teams play].

Anyway, in the World Baseball Classic, a five inning victory means the winning team will only record 15 outs in their win; and, in a seven inning victory, only 21 outs are recorded by the winning team.

The point of all my annoyance with the”Mercy Rule” is, I think the whole spirit of the game of baseball is ruined.

Baseball is a game of dreams and hope and redemption. The possibility of any team making a comeback, in any game that they are behind in, by any amount of runs, is one of the many fun things about our great American game of Baseball. There is always “hope” that our team will win every game it plays, even when the score may look out of reach.

Down by three runs or five runs or seven runs or ten runs or twelve or more runs. What difference does it make?

As long as our team has the full 27 outs to out-score the opposing team, there is always hope.

It is unmerciful to deny any team all of its 27 outs in a baseball game.

And, it is unmerciful to deny the fans of any team, “hope”; and, the chance of seeing its team make an exciting comeback and win the game — no matter how many runs their favorite team may be behind.

The game of baseball is not dictated by “time”; and, it should not be dictated by rule changes, that change that way the game is played.

Just ask Yogi Berra.


— Jimmy Curran, “Baseball, The Yankees, and Life”  



  1. juliasrants

    I couldn’t agree with you more Jimmy! Baseball is so like life; it ain’t over till it’s over – there is always a chance to win if you just try hard enough. It’s just like America! We might be down, but you can’t count us out! Throw the rule out and let them play! You & Yogi have it right! Have a great one Jimmy!


  2. crazy19canuck

    Everything can change with one swing of the bat. Like life, this game is unpredictable. We’ve all seen teams beat the odds in the bottom of the 8th, or top of the 9th. Every team should have a chance at a come back…delete the rule and play the whole game. Have a great day!

  3. bigpapi72

    I hat this rule too. I mean haven’t these guys heard of comebacks?! I think the mangers should decided before the game do you want the mercy rule in the game. That is what my little league does and every game our coach says no.

    Bob, http://bostonsports.mlblogs.com/

  4. scofid

    I agree that you go into a game expecting 27 outs. Regardless of what transpires, there’s always hope as you’ve suggested. Calling a baseball game early is like stopping an NBA game with 2 minutes left. There is so much drama and excitement that unfolds at the end. There’s nothing better than scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 9th…


  5. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Julia …

    Yeah, a victory in a baseball game is “not” just scoring the most runs in the game, but, it’s also, getting the other team “out” 27 times !!! … That’s the great thing about baseball, which is, like you said, Julia, “so much like life” — there is always hope for victory and success if we don’t give up !!! … This makes me think of the great speech Winston Churchill gave at a College gradution … The speech was only “seven-words” long, but it really sums up what the key to success is, in any area of life !!! … As you may recall, Churchill took the stage, and everyone in attendance expected a very long inspirational talk by the great Churchill … Well, the speech was very inspiartional, but probably the shortest inspirational speech ever !!! ……………. Winston Churchill said, “never, never, never, never, never, give up” … and, then, walked off the stage to a standing ovation !!! … Those words can apply to every player on every baseball team in every game — and, that’s why these games should be played until the final out is recorded [all 27 outs] !!! … I think Winston Churchill and Yogi Berra have the right idea about life; and, yes, Julia, we agree, “let them play”, ’till the game is over !!! …………. Take care, and have a great night, Julia !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  6. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Canuck …

    I totally agree !!! … Some of the most exciting moments in baseball have been “big” come-from-behind victories by teams down by many runs late in the games !!! … Every team in baseball has a chance to win every game it plays, up to the final out in the game, when all 27 outs are retired !!! … As you said, Canuck, “delete the [mercy] rule and play the whole game” !!! … Take care, Canuck !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  7. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Bob …

    Your coach is very smart, and a great example of how the game of baseball should be played … Players should never give-up, and always play hard, even if they are behind in the game !!! … This builds up the character in players, as they learn how to play when their team is losing; and, also, give their best effort no matter how far behind their team is in the game !!! … Bob, “Good Luck” in your Little League games this season; and, most important, have fun and never give up in any game that you play !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  8. jimmy27nyy

    Yes, Happy …

    Baseball is very beautiful — the “perfect game” that has no time limits … Only nine innings, with both teams getting three outs per inning, until the winning team gets the opposing team to make 27 outs !!! … This is the beauty of the game, both teams have a chance to win right up to the final at-bat, and out of the game !!! …
    Take care, Happy !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  9. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Scott …

    Yeah, very good example when you said, “calling a baseball game early is like stopping a NBA game with two minutes left” !!! … Each baseball team should have every one of its 27 outs in a game for a chance to make a comeback if they fall behind in a game, no matter how many runs they are behind in the game !!! … Those walk-off wins in the 9th inning, and extra innings, are the most exciting moments in baseball, and in all sports!!!
    Take care, Scott !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  10. xcicix

    Yes, Jimmy, I totally agree. Look at Team USA today, who scored 8 runs in one inning! Korea could have done that, and then gone on to score some more and win. I can’t think of any reason why the WBC officials would instigate a rule like that, but people are very strange!

  11. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Caroline [xcicix] …

    I’m also watching the Team USA vs. Venezuela game; and, all I was thinking after the USA team scored their eight runs in the top of the 6th inning, to take a 10-3 lead at the time, was, I hope this game is not decided by the “Ten-Run Mercy Rule” … It really would be a shame to win a game because of such a ridiculous rule !!! … As I’m writing these comments, Team USA has another rally going in the top of the 8th inning, and just scored three runs to increase their lead to, 14-5 … Jeter made the final out of the inning, so Team USA now holds a nine run lead as the game heads into the bottom of the 8th !!! … Team USA scored eight runs in an inning; Venezuela can do the same, and before we all know it, the score would be 14-13 [it is possible] … And, like you said, Korea could have made a comeback in their game against Japan !!! … There should not be rule changes, that change the way the game of baseball is played, especially, when these rules affect the outcome of the game !!! … Thanks for the visit, Caroline … Enjoy the rest of the game; and, let’s hope Team USA wins by recording the full 27 outs vs. Venezuela !!! … Take care !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  12. Erin Kathleen

    Jimmy,You’re right, the mercy rule isn’t very merciful to the fans of the losing team. This is baseball, after all, and anything can happen. I seem to remember a Rockies/Marlins game last season in which the Marlins were up 13-4 in the eighth inning, and ended up losing 19-17 in extra innings (I think that was the final score, I know they lost anyway). If MLB had the mercy rule, Colorado would never have gotten the chance to stage such an amazing comeback.I think the mercy rule only applies in the first two rounds of the WBC, though. I”m pretty sure games in the later rounds are played the full nine innings, no matter what the score.-Erin

  13. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Erin …

    Yeah, anything can happen in a baseball game, and until the final out is recorded, a team losing a game [by any amount of runs] always has a chance to make a comeback — like in the Marlins/Rockies game you mentioned in your above comments !!! … And, you are correct about the “Mercy Rule” only applying to the games in the first two rounds of the WBC !!! … It makes no sense [at all] for the WBC to have the “Mercy Rule” in this series !!! … Baseball is a nine inning game, or extra innings if the game is tied after nine … Let the teams play to the end of the game, with the winning team getting the opposing team “out” 27 times in a complete game, nine inning victory !!!
    Take care, Erin, and thanks for the visit !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  14. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Jane …

    I totally agree with you !!!
    Baseball is a nine inning game, and extra innings if the teams are tied after nine … No matter how many runs a team is behind in a game, they always have a chance to make a comeback [and win] any game !!!
    To deny a team their full 27 outs in a game, is not merciful, and it’s not baseball !!!
    Like you said, Jane, “No mercy rule! Ever” !!!
    Let the players “play” !!!
    Take care, Jane !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  15. raysrenegade


    They have us up on the Max Blog right now.
    Just wanted to tell you it is a pleasure to be in the same bracket and match up with you. I love your blog and they way you think, and wish you luck during the tourney.

    But now it is time to have some fun. I hope it is so close they have to recast the votes in Florida. ( Bad political pun).

    Rays Renegade


  16. rrrt

    I do not think there should be a mercy rule in the WBC, or as they euphemistically called it on the broadcast, “early termination”. It’s like something from a t-ball league!
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

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