DEAR CAL -- We were in a tournament game that ended in a tie. Obviously, with other games behind us, we couldn't have played until someone won. But other tournaments we've played in had a tiebreaker system where you start an extra inning with a runner at second, then each batter has a full count. It moves quickly, and usually within no more than a couple of quick innings, there's some resolution to the game. What do you think of games ending in ties, and of the tiebreaker system?
Todd Pratt, Bethesda
DEAR TODD -- As we've experienced at our tournaments in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and in Aberdeen, it is important to stay on schedule as much possible to make sure that everyone gets to play in an equal amount of complete games - especially during pool play. That's why most tournament games have a predetermined time limit. Obviously, once you get into some type of elimination round, determining a winner becomes necessary for the tournament to progress. When you write that most games end in a couple of quick extra innings, the reality is that not all games end in that manner. That would be the case whether you incorporate a tiebreaker or play complete extra innings. We've had tournament games extend for many extra innings and last hours during elimination play. Being a realist, I have to ask myself what would happen to the tournament if that was one of the 9 a.m. games on the first day? If you have lights at the facility, kids might end up playing well into the morning hours the next day. If you don't have lights, it creates a scheduling nightmare.
Participation in tournaments should be as much about the baseball experience as winning and losing. Almost everything we do on the baseball field teaches us a lesson about life. Sometimes in life there are no winners or losers in a situation despite the hard work that goes into a project. It is the responsibility of coaches to emphasize this and make sure that lessons are learned - even in the event of a tie. Instead of focusing on the scoreboard, let's concentrate on stepping up to a new level of competition, competing against new teams that aren't in our league, playing on new fields and seeing where we stand among other teams in our age group. If there is time to play extra innings, then of course the game should be continued. However, when time and field space are issues, limits must be set, and sometimes contests are declared ties. In some ways, I think I'd prefer that to playing an exciting game and then losing on one bloop hit that scores a runner who was placed on second for the sole purpose of breaking a tie.
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