Baseball will be played in the summer of 2020, although it often doesn’t look much like what the sport has looked like in the past century.
In extra innings, baseball decided to place a runner on second base to start the frame. On days with doubleheaders, MLB has reduced every game from nine to seven innings.
These are undoubtedly strange days, but it is all very crazy. These are rules that are more appropriate for slow-pitch softball games in the beer league than for Major League Baseball games.
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And this is certainly a unique situation. The season lasts only 60 games (although it is unlikely that each team will reach 60). And the start / stop / wait / start nature of the season, imposed by the global pandemic, means that the aforementioned tweaks of rules can help shorten games and reduce the pressure on pitching bars (even though the rosters are expanding ).
Sure. Good. Whatever. It’s a bizarre season in a bizarre world in a bizarre year, so bizarre rules are fine – as long as they apply for 2020 (the DH probably won’t leave NL though). But why not really go all-in with the new and the unusual?
Here are a few other rules that MLB can add to 2020.
Long home runs count for more
Why not? In 1961, the ABA decided to award three points to a shot that was further away because it was more difficult and added an element of excitement. The NBA approved it for the 1979-80 season, and the NCAA officially made it a standard rule in 1986.
Why not apply the same principle to baseball? It’s harder to hit the ball 475 feet than 350 feet, right? Wouldn’t that be worth more?
So far this year, 206 players have hit at least one homerun. According to Statcast figures, 31 players have achieved at least one home run of 430 feet or more – that’s even 15 percent. It seems like a good place to draw the line in the sand. So any home run hit of 430 feet or more, according to Statcast, is worth two runs for the rest of 2020.
With one out with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with no one on base? Swing from the heels and win the game there! No one in baseball history has ever hit a five-run homerun, but this new rule would make it possible.
We could call it the Grandest Slam or something.
Look, when MLB decided to just put a man on second base to start an inning, all bets were off for the 2020 season. All tradition was thrown out. What’s really sacred in the game if you don’t really need to earn your base? So homers with five runs should be something too.
New rules after the 11th inning
The goal is to keep games as short as possible, right? That’s why we have double innings of seven innings and freebie runners in second place in the 10th inning. Let’s go a step further even though it may not come into play often.
Only one game so far in 2020 has passed the 11 innings. The Astros and Dodgers played 13 games on July 29; neither team scored in the 10th or 12th, both scored a single run in the 11th. In the top of the 13th, the Dodgers scored twice to make sure the Astros didn’t cross the plate at the bottom of the frame.
Why not go crazy? So, starting in the 12th inning, let’s place a runner on third base instead of second. However, in line with the beer league softball theme, let’s start with 1-1, with one ball and one stroke. Force the action faster. Create an increased sense of urgency!
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Everyone comes on second base!
If we magically put runners on second base for extra innings – even as I type that, it’s still hard to believe this is a real rule used in MLB games – why not get that idea to expand?
Starting with the seventh inning (and, I think, fifth for doubleheader games?), Each hitter goes to a second hitter, not the first. Let the pitchers strike. More strokes lead to more runs and more runs in late innings are better, right?
Oh, and here’s another one: every time a batter is hit with a throw over the shoulders, anytime during the game, send the batter to second base, not first. Better yet, any time the referee believes a pitcher throws at a batter’s head – whether hitting or not – the batter can advance to second place. So when Joe Kelly threw behind Alex Bregman’s head, Bregman would have moved into second place.
This is the only serious thing I will really say today: MLB has to stop headhunting and Joe Kelly’s suspension of eight games was a wonderful step in the right direction.