Commissioner Miles Wolff Explains Can-Am League Tiebreaker

Miles Wolff is the Commissioner of the Can-Am League. He is the man responsible for the first “modern” independent league when six teams in the Upper Midwest and Canada ultimately became the Northern League in 1993. Wolff is also the Commissioner of the independent American Association.

The experience Wolff brings to any league is second to none. In the eighth edition of Total Baseball, a book authored by John Thorn and Alan Schwarz, he was selected as the 79th most important person in baseball history. So, when the Can-Am League adopted new rules to expedite extra innings games, you know it was done for the greater good.

Please find below a brief summary from the November 3 edition of the Indy Ball Perspective;

Never afraid to change things up and test the boundaries of what is considered “normal”, the Can-Am League has adopted the same extra-innings tiebreaker rules as the International Baseball Federation. I will be watching closely to see if the other independent leagues adopt the same policy, in the meantime, it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of a full season. Please find below the details, courtesy of the Can-Am League press release;

“Beginning in the 11th inning, the player in the batting order immediately preceding that inning’s leadoff hitter will be placed on second base. The inning will otherwise proceed as usual, with each team getting a turn at bat.

Should the player starting the inning on second base eventually score, it will count in statistics as a run for the player and an RBI for the batter who drove him in (if applicable), but it will not count towards the pitcher’s earned-run average.”

Devon Teeple: What was the motivation to adopt this rule?

MW: We’ve talked about it over the last couple of years. Basically extra-innings games, fans don’t really like, we think they do, but they leave after the 10th inning cause they have to get home. Where International Baseball seems to have done OK with a number of different rules, we discussed a lot of different types of things, but lets give it a try and see what happens. We don’t have to go by all Major League rules.

DT: Is this something you think other independent leagues could adopt?

MW: I’m sure. If it works and people like it, I think everyone would look at it and see if it is something they could adopt in their league.

DT: The Atlantic League has experimented with speeding up their games, and college has been using that rules for a few years now. Can you see others, even Major League Baseball coming up with the same sort of strategy?

MW: We’ve done what the Atlantic League has done two or three years ago (speed up games). The umpires get only 90 seconds between innings. They’re just things every league is looking at to speed up the game. It’s something we’ve done (and the American Association), and basically took five minutes off games in both leagues.

DT: Obviously the fans enjoy that more. You always hear people say baseball is too long or too boring, but when you sit and you actually watch the game for what it is, you begin to understand all the intricacies that go along with those three hours.

MW: Players don’t need to step out of the box and all that. Look at Major League games 50-years ago, they were running 2 hours and 30 minutes. Now they’re in the 3-hour range plus, and a lot of that has to with TV. They have to have all the TV commercials in there.

DT: And do you think MLB would ever adopt any rule that could speed up the game that significantly?

MW: Major League Baseball is trying. I know in the Arizona Fall League, they’ve got some speed up rules there. MLB would like to do it too, but their hands are tied. They’ve got more things that prohibit them from moving forward, not just tradition. Ultimately their goal is the same, and they recognize that games run too long also.

My thanks go out to Mr. Miles Wolff, who was gracious enough to spend some time with us here at The GM’s Perspective.

Please visit the Can-Am League if you are looking for more information on the league. You can also follow them on twitter and facebook. And congratulations to Quebec Capitales for their fifth consecutive league championship and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles, a first-year franchise, voted Organization of the Year.

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