The mercy rule is a provision in the rules that terminates a game early if one of the two teams has taken a substantial lead, considered to be insurmountable, after a minimum number of innings have been played. The rule is designed to avoid humiliating losses and to prevent unduly extending games whose outcome is no longer in doubt. The mercy rule is often called the skunk rule in slang, particularly in youth baseball.
Mercy rules are common in baseball outside Organized Baseball, having been used in college baseball, the Korea Baseball Organization, Little League, the Cuban Serie Nacional, international events such as the Baseball World Cup, the World Baseball Classic and some European leagues. In games governed by a mercy rule, the contest is declared over if one team is ahead by a set number of runs (usually 10) after a set number of innings (often 5 or 7).
In major league baseball, some influential voices, such as New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, have called for its implementation, pointing out that the increasingly common practice of having a mystery pitcher come out to pitch the final inning or two of a blowout loss is already equivalent to a team conceding the game, and that it would be cleaner if it did not have to go through the rigmarole of having a position player take the mound.
- Pete Caldera: "Yankees' Aaron Boone thinks 'there would be a lot of benefit' to a surrender rule in MLB", USA Today, August 16, 2019.