Hearing that MLB and the MLBPA could have the health and safety protocols finalized as early as tonight and expect it to include seven-inning double headers and the runner on second in extra innings, DH not expected to be included.— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) February 8, 2021
The seven-inning doubleheaders... fine with that.
The runner on second rule... well, I didn’t hate that as much as I thought I would. What I would prefer, long-term, with this rule is that it would not be used until after the 12th inning. As I have noted previously, games of 13 innings or longer amount to about 1.5 percent of all games, or maybe one per team per year. Let’s play traditional baseball through 12, then if it’s still tied, go to the runner-on-second rule.
You all know how I feel about the universal DH and I won’t belabor that here, but I tend to agree with the sentiment that it’s one of the things people actually liked about 2020 baseball, and in fact, it could wind up causing pitcher injuries. Pitchers haven’t batted in 18 months and now you’re going to expect them to?
The real issue here, though, is this:
I like regular-season baseball, and I don’t like treating the games as a burden to be done with. That’s my whole objection. These rules treat the games like an annoyance. Just finish them so we can get on to the playoffs.— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) February 8, 2021
That’s kind of how this all feels. The regular baseball season is something to be savored, slowly, unfolding a day at a time, a drama that lasts all spring and summer.
Owners, of course, make big money on MLB’s postseason and that’s why TV networks pay the big money they do. But they do seem, as Joe Sheehan points out, to be treating the regular season as an “annoyance.”
This is what they want fans to pay big money to see, incidentally.
Sometimes I think owners forget who, in the end, pays their way. Professional sports don’t exist without fans attending games, watching games, buying merchandise, etc. Baseball team owners ought to keep this in mind while making changes to the sport we love.