OK, we have a major league season … or something like it.
Commissioner Rob Manfred got tired of negotiating and went forward with a plan for a 60-game season with a July 23 opening day, and a World Series in late October.
We don’t yet have the exact schedule of games, but we do have a special set of rules that will make this the most bizarre major league season ever.
The plan is something akin to a proposal made weeks ago, only with a
shorter schedule; time was running out and Manfred wanted to cut the monetary losses as much as possible.
We don’t necessarily like the number of games – college teams play around 60 – but we’ll live with it.
Sadly there will be no fans at games, at least in the beginning of the MLB schedule. But teams will play at home parks with a schedule of games in their divisions and regions in order to lessen travel. For instance, AL Central teams will play within that division and against NL Central teams.
There is a whole new set of rules that govern players’ actions on and off the field. The rules cover just about everything from the time a player leaves the hotel room on game day, to when he returns to the room afterwards.
This of course is because of COVID-19, which is really the big boss in all of this.
Here are some of the weirder rules:
- No spitting. That’s a toughie since baseball and spitting have gone together since the beginning of the game. However, since there is a provision that gives players the option of wearing a mask, that may be a good reminder.
- No fist bumps, high fives or hugs. Should be interesting to see what players come up with.
- Watch those baseballs. Tons of baseballs will be used, because they don’t want them passed around too much. The rules even discourage tossing the ball around the infield.
- No hands to the face. The coach giving signs will have to do all that rubbing, tapping and scratching elsewhere.
And here are some game changers:
- Everyone plays with a designated hitter. Odds are, this rule will stick.
- Three batter minimum for pitchers. A time saver, this will also be a strategy challenge for managers.
- Start each extra inning with a runner on second. This is the one that gets me, because it is a slap in the face to fundamental rules of the game. Yes, it has been tried in the minors as a time saver, because the thinking is that fans in the local park have had enough baseball for the day; they can go home. But you would think the outcome of a game is a little more important in the big leagues. And there are so many other ways to save time – like limiting time outs further.
Still Some Issues
Those are only a few of the rules in store for this short MLB season. The special rule book contains more than 100 pages. Heck, it’ll take players 60 games just to get used to all of the stipulations.
Of course that is if the season plays out. Again, we are playing by the COVID-19 rule book, and if the virus starts popping up among numbers of players, anything could happen. Teams could be dropped or the entire season canned.
On the optimistic side, this major league season could play out as the most memorable in history.