America’s Pastime is finally back on the calendar! As we have been discussing the last few days, this abnormal season will come with some strange caveats. Whether it is the combining of divisions or the National League using designated hitters, there are a ton of quirks to unwrap.
Yet, two interesting rules deserve a deeper look. Both could alter the game as we know it, for better or worse.
- No Spitting!
- Games going into extra innings will begin with a runner on 2nd base.
Some of MLB’s safety protocol proposals reportedly include, according to @Ken_Rosenthal:
-No finger licking
-Masks must be worn in the dugout by non-playing personnel
-No swapping of lineup cards pic.twitter.com/xgzYvoamOD— Stadium (@Stadium) May 17, 2020
This new “rule” both makes sense, and doesn’t, all at once. It makes sense because of COVID-19, duh! The whole reason this season is shortened (outside of the MLBPA-MLB negotiation debacle) is because of the global pandemic.
We knew precautions would to be taken to minimize the spread of COVID-19. To what extent, however, was relatively unknown. The Athletic , however, obtained the MLB’s proposal on health and safety regulations back in May.
Most of what was agreed to, makes sense. From daily temperature checks to multiple tests per week. However, some things are more borderline. The first controversial rule change surrounds… spitting.
Baseball players are notorious for spitting. Whether it’s tobacco, which is something the league has been trying to curb anyway (good luck), or if it’s just innocent sunflower seeds… don’t do it. You cannot purposefully launch anything from your mouth. That includes plain spit, without an added projectile.
How is the MLB going to enforce this? Spitting is part of baseball. Yes, even if you think it’s disgusting, Karen.
With baseball being one of the few sports where there is minimal proximity between players, outside of the batter’s box, it doesn’t quite make sense. What if you are the pitcher? You are 60-plus feet from any other player, prior to the pitch. So does spitting on the grass really spread the disease? No.
We aren’t even sure what type of punishment will be handed down, to those who do spit (god forbid). How will they monitor each individual during a game? It is a massive overreach to think putting it in the protocols will curb it. Good luck, Manfred. You’ve been spitting in the proverbial face of baseball fans since you became commissioner.
RUNNER ON 2ND TO START EXTRA INNINGS
Now we are talking! A concept that has floated around the league for years is finally coming to fruition. A runner will start on 2nd base now, during extra innings. Even if it is just for a single season, I’m here for it.
With the regular season starting up on either July 23rd or 24th and ending around September 27th, they have to cram 60 games into 67 days. Not ideal, especially when Mother Nature will likely cause delays, plus some unconditioned players will become fatigued faster. I don’t need to watch another Twins-Red Sox game go 17 innings…
It took all night, but the Twins manage to defeat the Red Sox 4-3 in ONLY 17 innings.— Juiced MLB (@JuicedMLB) June 19, 2019
WILL A RUNNER ON SECOND BE EFFECTIVE?
I am ecstatic for this! The Twins have Byron Buxton (*vigorously knocks on wood*). His blazing speed should help end games quickly. Even if he isn’t at 100% or rules stop him from being “the guy”, the Twins have others who could be utilized for their speed, as well.
— Twins Highlights (@TwinsHighlights) August 19, 2017
This rule has been implemented in the minors, for a few seasons, and some have found it to be anti-climactic. Craig Calcaterra of Yahoo! Sports mentioned, that it often leads to the first batter just bunting the runner over, before being driven in by a sacrifice fly. This is great, if you have to be somewhere or have to wake up early… but not the best for those who love the strategy behind the game.
Think of this season as a test run, for the rule. Back in 2017, commissioner Rob Manfred doubted the “runner on 2nd” rule would ever be used in the MLB. Now if this experiment goes well, expect players to lobby for it in the upcoming CBA negotiations.
LET ‘ER RIP!
Sure, spitting isn’t a necessary part of the game. But it does impact how players prepare and has become engrained in some of their routines. As for the runner on second to start extras? Let ‘er rip!
The Twins are poised for greatness, in 2020. I am absolutely game. Especially if it brings the Twin Cities its first major championship since the 1991 Twins.
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan