The details of how the 2020 baseball season will be played are . . . intense
The official word from last night that the 2020 baseball season begins was welcome news for baseball fans. But when the details of the season became known, it became clear that this season will be a very different beast than anything that professional sport has seen in the past, and not just because there are no fans in the stands.
As far as we've gathered so far, here are all the rules, folds, challenges, and oddities that baseball will face on this short, strange journey of a season we're going to go to. The information comes from official press releases from MLB and MLBPA, sources familiar with the agreed procedures, and reports from Ken Rosenthal, Evan Drellich and Jayson Stark from The Athletic and Ronald Blum from the Associated Press.
The teams play most games against their own division and a handful of interleague games against the corresponding division from the other league. In particular, each team will play 10 games against the other four teams in its division in a combination of two and three game series. The remaining 20 games will be interleague competitions, East vs. East, Central vs. Central, West vs. West. Six of these 20 will be "rivalry" games, like Mets vs. Yankees and Cubs vs. White Sox. How the other games will collapse is unknown.
There are no planned double headers to limit the amount of time spent in a stadium on a given day. As usual, shifts are made using double heads.
There are no specific schedules yet.
We have received some piecewise reports of rule changes, including the runner on the second base rule. Other rule changes:
Universal DH, which has long been covered in the plan. As of now, this only applies to the 2020 season and the pitchers will hit again in 2021, provided that at least 2021 is a normal season. However, this could be renegotiated before next year;
The league abandons its new rule that would have allowed position players to throw only in certain situations. It is now on hands at all times.
Games that start but then stop before the fifth inning due to rain are no longer counted as washouts that don't count. They are considered to be blocked games that will resume from the time they were stopped later. The purpose of this rule is to stop the practice of holding people in the stadium for hours to make a game “official”.
The “three-dough rule” for relief jugs introduced for this year remains as planned, but can be relaxed in the “spring training”.
Rosters / transactions
The teams have been under a transaction freeze since March and ban trades and signings. The freeze ends on Friday at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.
The teams will have 30 players on the active roster in the first two weeks of the season and 28 in the two weeks after, before being reduced to 26 for the rest of the way.
Without smaller leagues, the teams are allowed to keep a total of 60 players, unlike a 40-man squad, with those who go beyond the active squad described above included in a taxi squad. Three players from the taxi team can travel to a game with a team. One of the three must be a catcher;
The list of injuries for jugs should be changed from 10 days to 15 days. It will stay at ten days now;
The trading period ends on August 31. The active roster deadline for the postseason is September 15th.
Hitters now have to bring their own pine tar rags, bat donuts, and other equipment to and from the deck circle.
There will be no bat boys / girls or ball boys / girls. Clubs and balls are delivered by other team members.
Throwers now have to bring their own rosin bag up the hill and use their own personal baseball balls for bullpen sessions.
Bats that were on the plate and runners left on the base have to return to the dugout to get their hats, gloves, and sunglasses when an inning ends, rather than letting anyone run towards them.
Baseballs used in the punch exercise can only be used on that day. After that, they must be cleaned and disinfected and must not be reused for five days.
Personal habits, physical contact
Spitting is prohibited, including sunflower husks. Smokeless tobacco is prohibited. Chewing gum is allowed;
Jugs that lick their fingers are prohibited. Throwers are allowed to carry a “damp rag” in their pockets to dampen their fingers in front of the parking space.
Fighting and incitement are strictly forbidden and are treated with "strict discipline". Players must not make physical contact with other players outside of tagging and other random contacts that may normally occur during a game. This includes high fives, punches and hugs that are prohibited;
Showering in the stadium is "discouraged, but not prohibited". Even then, only people in uniform and active dugout / clubhouse staff can shower there. For example, the GM cannot come down after a workout in the weight room and have a shvitz.
All "insured persons" who refer to players, coaches, employees and basically all persons who are involved in baseball operations will submit a symptom / exposure questionnaire before reaching the spring training. Basically a report "What I did during my quarantine";
Covered individuals are also given a temperature check, a COVID-19 saliva or nasal swab test, and a blood test for antibodies before they go to spring training.
After the notification, the temperature and symptoms of the insured persons are checked at least twice a day. People with a temperature above 100.4 degrees cannot enter a ball park.
If fever or other COVID symptoms appear as soon as someone is in the stadium, they must be isolated as soon as possible. The teams then have to perform contact tracking procedures to determine who the person interacted with and to clean / disinfect all facilities.
Players, coaches, trainers and others who have close physical contact with players are subjected to saliva tests every other day. All others in and around baseball stadiums and team operations are tested several times a week. The results should be available in 24 hours.
Those who test positive are obviously unable to contact the team and are included in a special type of injury list called the COVID-19 Related Injured List, which has no time limit like the normal injury list.
Players placed on the COVID 19 casualty list have a way back. In particular, they must be tested negative twice at least 24 hours apart, must not have had a fever in at least 72 hours and must have performed an antibody test. Above all, the approval of the doctor and the approval of a joint COVID-19 committee set up by the league and the union must also be approved.
Those who only show symptoms, but whose tests are negative, can contact the team again as soon as the test results are returned AND they show no symptoms AND receive medical approval.
As previously reported, MLB's tests are conducted by the Utah baseball anti-doping laboratory.
Players will NOT sign a Risk Recognition Form that MLB suggested during the negotiations
Players, family members at high risk for / due to COVID-19
The teams identify "high risk" personnel, where "high risk" is defined as "those who are at significantly higher risk of developing serious illnesses or complications from COVID-19 exposure due to their age and / or medical history" .
High-risk personnel receive special accommodations, including separate park entrances, separate private rooms in a ball park, and are allowed to spend as little time in the park as is necessary for their work.
High-risk players can suspend the 2020 season. In this case, they will be included in the COVID-19 Related Injured List. High-risk players who skip the season get paid and service time. Wage / employment or high-risk workers who are not gamers and choose to suspend are treated from team to team, obviously in compliance with normal health / disability laws.
Players who live with high-risk individuals or who are in close contact with them on a regular basis could also drop out, but would not automatically receive payment and service. However, it is generally expected that teams can relax this or take it into account in some other way. For example, if a player's wife goes to work, the player could go on the paternity list that is being paid and extend that time given the unusual and / or risky circumstances. Well, all of this is beneficial for people in this situation. For example, Mike Trout's wife is expected to have a baby in August. You have to imagine that the angels will not dock his reward if he needs extra time to get back from it.
MLB and the union have set up a four-member health monitoring committee: a mutually appointed doctor and a representative of both parties. This committee is expected to resolve any issues or disputes arising from the special circumstances of the 2020 season.
Media access to players is restricted. In contrast to individual or Scrum interviews, video press conferences are expected to take place after the games. Zoom and other forms of video chat are also likely to be used.
Press is allowed in the stadiums, but must not come close to the players.
No visiting broadcasting teams will be present. The home video / audio crew will provide a shared feed to the guest team's RSN and must be balanced for neutrality as long as video / sound is focused during the game. When you visit broadcasters, you can access games remotely.
That is a lot to consider. If you find everything disheartening, imagine what it will be like for the teams and players.
The details of how the 2020 baseball season is played are. . . intensive originally appeared on NBCSports.com
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