Is MLB’s new extra-inning rule, which places a runner on second base to begin every half-inning after the ninth, here to stay?
Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes so.
“People were wildly unenthusiastic about the (2020) changes. And then when they saw them in action, they were much more positive,” Manfred told the Associated Press Tuesday.
“I think the players like it. I think it’s really good from a safety and health perspective that keeps us from putting players in situations where they’re out there too long or in positions they’re not used to playing.”
The rule did seem absurd at first, but upon actually seeing it, it’s difficult to argue against for any reason other than tradition. It saves bullpens, which are used more now than ever. It reduces risk of injury. It theoretically keeps star players on the field more because they are logging fewer innings in the field.
A new agreement between the league and the players’ association is required to make permanent any of these changes, from the extra-inning rule to playoff expansion to the designated hitter in the National League. The current agreement expires after 2021. Compromises were made for this two-month season because of the unique circumstances and structure.
MLB’s 30 teams lost a combined $3 billion in 2020, Manfred told the AP. The expansion of the postseason from 10 teams to 16 was done in large part to make up for lost revenues.
It does not sound like that number, 16, will stick. Good. It would drastically water down a 162-game regular season. Look at the situation created the final weekend of September. The Phillies lost seven of their final eight, finished four games under .500 and still would have made it into the playoffs with a win in their season finale.
“I don’t think we would do 16 like we did this year,” Manfred said. “I think we do have to be cognizant of making sure that we preserve the importance of our regular season. But I think something beyond the 10 that we were at would be a good change.”
Subscribe to the Phillies Talk podcast: