Written by Gia Cusimano (Sports Writer)
Covid-19 has put a strain on the MLB and has caused them to create 23 changes to the rules in order to keep the players and other offices safe for the coronavirus. Thus testing the limits to whether or not this 2020 season will happen. The rule changes started in spring training and will continue the regular season, the changes are both beneficial and necessary in order to keep the 2020 season alive and people safe. Here is a list of the new rules that are now required by the MLB.
- All games will include a designated hitter.
- There will be no mound visits during the game, and pitching changes would be done from the dugout.
- Extra-inning games will be played as follows: • The 10th inning will have a runner on 2nd base with no outs for each team. • The 11th inning will have a runner on 2nd base and 3rd base with no outs for each team. • The 12th inning will have the bases loaded with no outs for each team. • If the game is still tied after 12 innings, then the result will be a tie. Except for postseason games, when each inning after the 11th inning will start with the bases loaded and no outs until there is a winner.
- There will be no spitting of sunflower seeds or chewing tobacco permitted. There will be no sharing of beverages in the dugouts. Each player will have his own cooler and gum/energy bar supply.
- Once a player is removed from a game, he will be forced to leave the dugout, shower in the clubhouse and leave the facility. Each road team must have enough buses available so that shuttling of players in small groups to and from the ballpark may be easily facilitated. No taxis or ride shares will be allowed to transport players to and from the ballpark.
- There will be absolutely no visitors, media members or any other people allowed in the clubhouse.
- There will be no instant replay. The video room will be shut during the game, and the video coordinator will leave the facility before the game begins.
- There will be no first- and third-base coaches on the field. This helps minimize the number of people at each game. Signs will be given by coaches from the dugout. For those concerned about waving runners home from third base or telling a batter to go to second base on a batted ball, the absence of fans will allow those signals to be given orally from the dugout coaches. The main reason for the “hand” signs by the base coaches is that it is very difficult to hear during a regular fan-filled game. There is no competitive disadvantage to everyone hearing that a batter will attempt to advance rather than looking to the base coaches for the universal stop/advance sign.
- The following staff members will be permitted in the ballpark on game days: Manager, hitting coach, pitching coach, bench coach, 2 trainers, 1 strength coach, 4 clubhouse attendants, 1 traveling secretary, 2 owners, 1 president, 1 president of baseball operations, 1 general manager, 1 assistant GM, 1 public relations staff member and 1 doctor.
- Players may invite up to four people to each game, however, all guests must agree to be tested for COVID-19 and agree to contact tracing. They also will be expected to maintain safe social distance in the stands and elsewhere.
- All personnel, including players, will be temperature checked before gaining entrance to the ballpark. Any person with a temperature above the limit as defined by local state and federal guidelines will be administered a test, denied entry and sent home regardless of the test’s outcome.
- There will be no broadcasters in the ballpark, but 1 reporter will have access to certain areas. The broadcasters will be able to broadcast the games on both TV and radio remotely.
- Only one player and the manager will meet the pool media member after each game, maintaining safe distance. Teams will make the manager and a player available for a pre- and postgame zoom with other media members, local and national.
- Players will also have to agree to contact tracing and every other day testing. If there is a positive test, the player will be quarantined for 14 days and those on that player’s contact trace report will be tested every day but able to participate in full activities until they either show symptoms or test positive.
- The clubhouse will never be occupied by a full team. There will be staggered reporting times, depending on that particular game’s lineup.
- The training room tables will be covered in a sanitary way, with only two players at a time allowed in the training room.
- The clubhouse weight room facilities will open in shifts, with full cleaning in between each use.
- The food room in the clubhouse will also be open in shifts, and only open pregame, with one player per table.
- Clubhouse lockers will be assigned, so that there is maximum spacing between players. All available clubhouses in a ballpark will be used. Most, if not all, ballparks have at least one auxiliary clubhouse.
- Clubhouse bathrooms/showers will also be done in shifts. For example, half the team will shower immediately after the game while the other half eats, and then they switch.
- The clubhouse spread usually is served buffet style. This will change. There will be no buffet. Pregame, each team will provide all food in individually wrapped packages. After the game, each player will take his individually wrapped meal on his way out of the clubhouse.
- Pregame batting practice and infield work will also be done with proper social distancing, meaning one person per defensive position. There will be no shagging balls during batting practice and pitchers will not take batting practice at all, with the exception of pre-certified two-way players.
- Within each stadium, there will be a maximum of four live cameras located behind home plate, in center field, behind first base and behind third base, with four camera operators, who would also need to be tested every other day and submit to contact tracing. Each team’s broadcasts would share the same feed. Each stadium would also have one P.A. announcer. These broadcast personnel would not come in contact with players or baseball personnel.
When the pandemic hit America the MLB was just midway through spring training, forcing teams to stop and be removed from these facilities, and it would not be reasonable for them to start playing again without some type of warm up training. So instead they have commenced “Spring training” to start July 6th, and have only pitches and caters, until July 16 when all team players will be allowed to bring their own training as well. This will be held at each team home stadium, spring training rosters will have a maximum of 45 players, to avoid the masses of people, allowing each team to be ready for the regular season with safety.
Regular season is planned to begin with opening day on August 1st, and there will be a 81-game season running through September and October, followed by playoffs in November. This will give a balanced schedule within the three proposed divisions. A balanced schedule will allow each team to play nine games against each division opponent, that will be nine games each against nine teams for a total of 81 games. The divisions would be the following, East: Baltimore, Boston, Miami, N.Y. Mets, N.Y. Yankees, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Washington. Central: Atlanta, Chi. Cubs, Chi. White Sox, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota, St. Louis. West: Arizona, Colorado, Houston, L.A. Dodgers, L.A. Angels, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas. Let’s hope for a full season, and that players and officials will be safe and stay healthy throughout the time they will be participating in the MBL’s 2020 season.