MLB has officially laid out most of the new rules that will be activated for the upcoming truncated season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. After team owners and players finally decided to move forward with baseball, it became time to lay down the sod upon which the games would be played.
There is still some work to be done, as the coronavirus is still impacting all sports, but, if things go well, live baseball will make it to the US in less than a month.
DH, Second-base Runner Guaranteed
The new rules were released by MLB today, with the league explaining, “Major League Baseball today announced some of the unique features that will be a part of the 2020 regular season, including health and safety protocols that will impact play on the field as well as revised operating procedures away from it. Summer Camp presented by Camping World begins on Wednesday, July 1st, the mandatory reporting date.
All Players and Club staff will be required to go through medical testing and screening processes before entering Club facilities. Full baseball activities and first workouts will be allowed on Friday, July 3rd and each Club’s Opening Day will be held on either Thursday, July 23rd or Friday, July 24th.”
As had been expected in the new rules, there will be a designated hitter in all National League games, the first time this has ever happened in the history of MLB. If a game needs to go into extra innings, there will be a runner placed on second base, switching at every half-inning, according to which team is at bat. That runner is the player who falls right after the half-inning’s leadoff hitter, unless a pitcher falls into that spot. In that case, the runner will be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order.
To complicate the matter a little, MLB decided to figure out how that designated runner got to second, possibly for austerity’s sake. When looking back on 2020 baseball 50 years from now, people will see that the runner was a legitimate runner in the lineup who had reached second from a fielding error. However, no actual error will be charged against the opposing team.
No More Kicking Up A Dust Storm
Under the new rules, any individual who kicks sand at an ump or who gets in an ump’s face, violating social-distancing rules, might be pounding sand, as the MLB explains, “Prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing between individuals on the playing field. In this respect, players and managers should maintain physical distancing from all umpires and opposing players on the playing field whenever possible.
“Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions.”
Spitting is also prohibited. This includes saliva, sunflower seeds, peanut shells, tobacco or any other substance a player or team member would like to chew on. The only exception, as long as it isn’t hurled at an ump, is chewing gum.
New MLB Rules Include COVID-19 Injury List
The MLB injury list will still be in use, but it will be for ten or 45 days. In addition, there will now be a new COVID-19 Related Injury List added to the rules, which the MLB league explains will “allow for placements that will not require a confirmed positive test for COVID-19. A player may be placed on the COVID-19 Related IL based on a positive test for COVID-19, confirmed exposure to COVID-19, or if a player exhibits symptoms requiring self-isolation for further assessment.”
Assuming the season actually starts, this is going to be an interesting year for baseball. In fact, it’s going to interesting for all major sports, but the recovery process has to start somewhere. The sooner players can get back to action, the better everyone will be.