Is there a mercy rule in MLB? | MLB Rules

World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
World Series - Houston Astros vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Game 3.

In the MLB, although both teams are world-class, some games can become lopsided. When one team is hitting around the other as if they were a little league team, sometimes fans want to see some mercy.

During the 2022 MLB season, there were a few examples of such epic blowouts. In late July, the Toronto Blue Jays trounced the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park by a score of 28-5.

"Never been a fan of implementing a mercy rule in MLB but my god these Canadians are having themselves a Boston Tea Party" - Not Gaetti

The number of runs in the game was a new franchise record for the Toronto Blue Jays, and came just one run shy of tying the modern MLB record of runs in a game. The record was set when the Boston Red Sox rolled over the St. Louis Browns by a score of 29-4 all the way back in 1950.

A mercy rule is when a certain team scores so many runs that they are declared the winner and the game is discontinued. Although it is popular in amateur sports to maintain a competitive environment, there is no mercy rule in the major leagues.

Instead, the onus is placed on teams to let up when they are up by a wide margin. For example, players who hit home runs when their teams are up by double digits usually see themselves as a target for opposing pitchers.

"Adopt a mercy rule @MLB" - Jordan Cicchelli

Although there are currently no mercy rules in place, some prolific voices in the baseball world have spoken in favor of one. One notable name is New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

In reference to bringing in a mercy rule, Boone said:

“I know I brought it up with you guys a couple years ago and you guys chuckled at me. But we don’t have any of these questions if everyone’s fighting to get to that 10 runs by seven innings or something.”

Boone was referring to a White Sox hitter who had hit a home run despite his team being up by 11 runs the night before.

MLB mercy rule is unlikely to come into effect any time soon

Although it is a nice idea rooted in fairness, the truth is that a mercy rule would be wildly unpopular with fans. Fans come to see a game in hopes that their team will rout the opposition. When it does happen, they certainly do not want their team to relent in any way.

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Edited by Rajdeep Barman
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