The new rules will probably be temporary
Major League Baseball made some rule changes last season, as emergency measures amid the coronavirus pandemic. Among them, doubleheader games were shortened to seven innings apiece, and a free runner was placed on second base in extra innings, both designed to shorten the amount of time spent on the field.
Those two rules have continued into 2021, but the league doesn’t plan to make them permanent.
“I don’t think seven-inning doubleheaders are going to be part of our future going forward,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday, via Jeff Passan of ESPN. Manfred went on to say the extra-inning-runner rule also isn’t likely to stick around, per insider Mark Feinsand.
Nothing is official yet, and the league and Players Association will discuss these and other topics in their negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement next winter.
Good riddance. Both of these rules made sense during the pandemic, but personally I wasn’t a fan of either. Shortening games to seven innings radically changes the natures of pitching staffs, basically eliminating either the need for a true starter or the need for a middle relief crew. The extra-inning-runner definitely adds drama, but for me it’s an artificially manufactured excitement that turns the 10th inning into a gimmick.
That said, both of these rules still make sense in the minor leagues, where the health and development of younger players gets even higher priority, and where teams can use every extra thrill they can find like the bonus baserunner. But let’s keep the MLB game like it was.
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