Tie Breaker and Extra Innings
If both teams have scored the same number of runs at the end of
a regular-length game, a tie is avoided by the addition of extra
innings. As many innings as necessary are played until one team
has the lead at the end of an inning. Thus, the home team always
has a chance to respond if the visiting team scores in the top
half of the inning; this gives the home team a small tactical
advantage. In theory, a baseball game could go on forever; in
practice, however, they eventually end. In Major League Baseball
the longest game played was a 26-inning affair between the Brooklyn
Robins and Boston Braves on May 1, 1920. The game ended in a
1-1 tie called on account of darkness.
Major League Baseball Tied Games
In Major League Baseball, games end with tie scores only because
conditions have made it impossible to continue play. A tie game
does not count as an official game in the standings unless it
is finished later or replayed; however, individual player statistics
from tie games are counted. Inclement weather may also shorten
games, but at least five innings must be played for the game
to be considered official; four-and-a-half innings are enough
if the home team is ahead. Previously, curfews and the absence
of adequate lighting caused more ties and shortened games.
Japanese Baseball Tied Games
In Japanese baseball, if the score remains tied after nine
innings, up to three extra innings may be played before the
game is called
a tie. Some youth or amateur leagues will end a game early if
one team is ahead by ten or more runs, a practice known as the "mercy
rule" or "slaughter rule". Rarely, a game can
also be won or lost by forfeit.
There is a short break between each half-inning during which
the new defensive team takes the field and the pitcher warms
Traditionally, the break between the top half and the bottom
half of the seventh inning is known as the seventh-inning stretch.
During the "stretch," fans often sing the chorus of "Take
Me Out to the Ball Game."