Although the designated hitter decision is still, incredibly, up in the air, there are some other rules decisions close to being made for the 2021 MLB season.
Given that the season is now expected to be a full 162 and start on time – long before the COVID-19 vaccines will have a chance to truly corral the pandemic – there are certain 2020 rules changes that kinda just have to carry over into 2021:
MLB, fearing the pandemic could create havoc with scheduling, is planning to bring back 7-inning doubleheaders and runner on 2nd base in extra innings in talks with the union. The universal DH and expanded playoffs still being negotiated. https://t.co/mi1KGCOvQl
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 15, 2021
Some players and many with the league expressed approval for those two rules in general anyway, so I fully expect seven-inning doubleheaders and runner-on-second to be part of the season in 2021. I don’t really hate either one. I was pretty ambivalent about shortened double-headers anyway (I see the health and safety merits, even outside of a pandemic context), so that’s fine. I was pretty adamantly opposed to starting extra innings with a runner on second base … until I actually saw it play out. It just wasn’t quite as annoying or rote as I thought it would be. The immediate injection of drama and game-planning was actually fun in my view, to say nothing of the elimination of marathon games, which has its own merits, again, even outside the pandemic context.
As for expanded rosters (they were 28 last year), that is a decision still to be made, together with the DH and expanded postseason. All three of those decisions come with financial implications, so you can see why they haven’t been resolved as quickly as the other stuff. Even if, you know, they absolutely should be resolved ASAP given their impact on team-construction and free agency.