Newest Rule Changes This Season in Major League Baseball
BASEBALL IS BACK, finally! After months of pettiness between both the owners of Major League Baseball and the Players Association about the length of the season, how much the players will be paid, and everything else Commissioner Rob Manfred has implemented a 60-game season for 2020.
However, baseball will look and feel a bit different this season and it's not just the shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's not just that there won't be any fans in the stands but there are many aspects of the game that'll be changed.
Here's a list of all the new rule changes for the 2020 Major League Baseball season:
- The 2020 regular season will begin on July 23rd or July 24th, with 60 games over a 66-day period.
- Teams will mostly play against their own division, with a few interleague games against the corresponding division. Teams will play 10 games each against the other four teams in its division, consisting of two or three-game series. The remaining 20 games on the schedule will come against interleague counterparts (Example: AL East vs. NL East), playing each opponent four times each.
- The National League will now utilize a designated hitter.
- The three-batter rule for relief pitchers will remain as planned.
- Teams will begin extra innings with a runner on second base.
- Games that are stopped due to rain before the fifth inning will no longer count as washouts and will be considered “suspended games” that will be resumed.
- The postseason format will remain the same, with three division winners and two wild-card teams per league.
- Rosters will start with 30 players for the first two weeks of the season, drop to 28 players for the next two weeks, and then stay at 26 players for the remainder of the season.
- Instead of a 40-man roster, teams will now be allowed to retain 60 players overall. Those players not on the active roster will exist on a taxi squad, with three players from that group able to travel with the team to games. One of those three players must be a catcher.
- The trade deadline is set for Aug. 31. The active roster deadline for playoff eligibility is Sept. 15.
- There will be a special COVID-19 Injured List with no minimum or maximum length of time spent on it. Injury List (IL) stints will remain at 10 days, while the 60-day IL will instead last for 45 days.
- Players will be paid a full prorated portion of their 2020 salary based on games played, which will equal approximately 37% for a full 162-game season.
- There will be no bat boys/girls or ball boys/girls, so team staff will handle those duties. Hitters will have to bring their own equipment (pine-tar rags, donuts, etc.) with them to and from the on-deck circle.
- Pitchers will have to bring their own rosin bag to the mound and use their own personal baseballs for bullpen sessions.
- Hitters and runners left on base will have to get their own equipment from the dugout when the inning ends. Hustle up.
- Spitting is prohibited (this would be the biggest habit for me to break), including sunflower seeds and shells. Smokeless tobacco is also prohibited while gum will be allowed.
- Players licking their fingers is now prohibited. Pitchers can carry a “wet rag” in their pocket to moisten their fingers before pitches.
- Batting practice balls can only be used that day and will have to be cleaned and sanitized after use. They cannot be reused for five days.
- Fighting and instigating is a big no-no and will be met with “severe discipline.” Players cannot make physical contact with any other players outside of making tags and other incidental contacts throughout the duration of a game.
- There will be no high fives, fist bumps, and celebratory hugs.
- Showering at the ballpark is “discouraged but not prohibited.”
- Players, coaches, staff, and those involved in baseball operations will have to answer a symptoms/exposure questionnaire before arriving at spring training. Those individuals will also have a temperature check, COVID-19 saliva or nose swab test, and an antibody blood test before arriving at spring training.
- Players will undergo temperature and symptom checks twice a day, and anyone with a temp higher than 100.4 degrees will not be allowed to enter a ballpark. Those who have close physical contact with players will undergo saliva tests every other day. Everyone else in and around ballparks and part of team ops. will undergo multiple tests per week. Test results are supposed to be returned in 24 hours.
- If someone develops COVID-19 symptoms while at the ballpark, they must isolate as soon as possible and the team will conduct contact tracing procedures and clean all facilities.
- Those who test positive will be placed on the COVID-19 Related Injured List, which does not have a time limit. To be removed from the list, players have to test negative twice at least 24 hours apart, cannot have had a fever for at least 72 hours, and must have taken an antibody test. Doctors and a joint COVID-19 committee created by the league and the union must all sign off for a player to be removed from the list.
- Players that are at high-risk can sit out the entire 2020 season, and will be placed on the COVID-19 Related Injured List. Those who choose to sit out the season will be paid and will receive service time for the season.
- Players who live with or are regularly in close contact with high-risk individuals can also sit out, but they may not automatically receive pay and credit for service time. MLB is expected to make several accommodations on this front though, including situations with players who are expecting children during the season.
- Teams will identify high-risk personal (people who, by virtue of their age and/or medical history, are at a materially higher risk of developing severe illness or complications from COVID-19 exposure) and afford them special accommodations such as separate entrances to the park, separate private spaces at a ballpark, and allowing them to spend as little time at the park as is necessary to do their job.
- There will be limited media access to players, with video press conferences taking the place of one-on-one or media scrums prior to the completion of a game.
- Reporters will be allowed in stadiums but they will not be allowed near players.
- There will be no visiting broadcast teams, with the home broadcast crews providing a common feed to the visiting teams. Visiting broadcasters will call games remotely.