MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Major League Baseball plans to implement a rule for the 2020 season in which additional inning games will feature innings beginning with a runner at second base. The idea is to speed up the end of games that end in a draw after nine innings, as the schedule will be very tight this year and long games will create more problems this year than they normally would.
The runner-over-second rule has been in effect in the minor leagues for the past two seasons. Under the minor league rule, the runner at second base shall be the player in the batting order position prior to the starting batter of the extra inning. So generally the guy who made the last out in the previous inning or a pinch runner for that guy. If the placed runner scored, it is considered an unearned run.
The rule was pioneering in the World Baseball Classic and was tested in the Gulf Coast League and the Arizona League before 2018, when all minor leagues adopted it. In 2017 Rob Manfred said he doubted the rule would ever be used in the majors, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what baseball would be like in 2020.
For what it’s worth, I’ve attended minor league games where the rule was used. Was . . . penalty fee. If you have a place to be or need to get up early the next morning, it’s probably preferable to an 18-inning game where you can’t stay awake, but when it comes to baseball action, it’s pretty anticlimactic. It almost always causes the leadoff hitter in the inning to hit the runner to the 3rd and games generally end pretty quickly. If that’s your bag, great, but it has all the excitement of an NFL overtime game ending in an opening field goal.
MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that there have been several proposed rule changes for the 2020 season. Craig discussed one of them before: Additional entries will start with a runner at second base. There will be a DH in both leagues.
Also, there will be a DH in both leagues. There will be no limits on the position of the players throwing. The minimum of three batters will continue to be implemented. And, given the new coronavirus, pitchers will be allowed to keep a damp cloth in their pockets as a substitute for finger licking.
Cotillo adds that the exchange deadline will be set for August 31. The Opening Day roster will contain 30 players, but will be reduced to 28 on the 15th of the season and 26 on the 29th. The 60-day injured list will likely become the 45-day IL and there will be a wounded list of 10 days for less serious injuries.
Access to the media will be limited, according to Cotillo. Members of the media will use Zoom and other forms of video chat. They will be allowed to enter the stadiums, but they will not be allowed to approach the players.
Many of these rule changes make sense under the circumstances. Much attention will be paid to the “wet rag” rule, and deservedly so. It’s going to be very difficult to break the pitchers’ habit of licking their fingers and touching their faces in other ways. What happens when a pitcher accidentally licks his fingers? Will the referee jump from behind the plate to mark the time while the pitcher applies hand sanitizer and uses a new ball?