Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred, and the Players Association have a difficult task ahead of them, with the Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire on December 1. In order to avoid a strike, they will have to come a new agreement quickly, and this one may have extra negotiations due to recently imposed COVID-19 rules.
When the league imposed a 60-game season on the players for the pandemic-altered 2020 year, they also implemented a few other rules meant to speed up the game and get players away from one another. One of those rules was putting a runner at second base to begin all extra innings in the hopes of avoiding 14-and-15-inning games. The other was making doubleheaders seven innings instead of nine.
Now, Manfred has hinted that these rules were implemented solely because of the pandemic, meaning it’s likely that neither will be implemented with the passing of a new CBA, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I think they are much less likely to become a part of our permanent landscape than some of the other rules that we’ve talked about over time that relate to sort of how the game is being played,” Manfred said.
Manfred also spoke about other potential rule changes, including the addition of some sort of shift limitations defensively and a designated hitter in the National League.
“It’s not change, it’s kind of restoration. That’s why people are in favor of it. Front offices, in general, believe it will have a positive effect on the play of the game. … I’m hopeful that we will have productive conversations with the MLBPA about non-radical changes to the game that will restore it to being played in a way that is closer to what many of us enjoy historically.”
Manfred said extending the designated hitter to the National League could be possible, but not definite.
“I think it would be a non-radical change, but I’m not going to speculate on whether we’re going to propose it or get it,” he said.
Regardless, it appears that the 2022 season could look somewhat different from 2021 if all goes according to plan during CBA negotiations.
It’s also important that the league and its players compromise wherever they can to ensure the next season happens on time. It would be difficult for MLB to recover if they were to deal with a strike after the revenue losses during the 2020 season.
Manfred praises Shohei Ohtani
During the same press conference, Manfred gave his thoughts on Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. He said that he was left speechless by what he’s seen from Ohtani this season, and that he fondly remembers the scouting reports he saw from the Japanese star during his high school days.