Will some MLB rule changes be used again in 2021?

Today is sort of a follow-up on yesterday's entry, where we discussed whether defensive shifts should be eliminated or at least reduced. Today I pledge my personal support for two rules I would like to see continue in 2021.

And maybe just in 2021. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the coming season. Why not take another look at some of these rules and then decide whether they stick around more long-term starting in 2022. See what they look like through 162 games - or however many they can get in.

I liked the new extra-innings rule and would like to see more. No doubt some fans see placing a runner at second base as a huge gimmick and messing too much with the game. But I saw it create more drama and excitement and also serve the intended purpose of shortening games. No need to see clubs run through their entire pitching staffs in 15- and 16-inning games.

Hyde-Observing-Dugout-White-Cap-Sidebar.jpgLast year, during the 60-game season, there were no games that went longer than 13 innings. There were some strategy decisions, starting with whether the visiting team try and bunt that runner over to third base. We seemed to see less of that as we went along, with the visiting team playing for a bigger inning than one run. If the home team came up in a tie game, a bunt might be more in order.

One writer suggested a tweak to this rule, but I'm not in favor of it. That would be to have each team's lineup start with the leadoff hitter in the first extra inning and the No. 9 batter being the placed runner. I don't think we need this change. You bat wherever you left off in your lineup. That is normal and natural in the game, even in extra innings. I see no need for the tweak here.

While I am giving my endorsement to rule changes, I'll state I also am a fan of seven-inning doubleheaders. That is enough innings to decide a game and it enables easier rescheduling of games, in my opinion. Using fewer pitchers in a doubleheader is another opportunity for less taxing of pitching staffs.

The games seemed to move at a quick pace and you got 21 outs to try and win. That should be enough to get the job done. This gets into the economics of it, and would cost some ticket sales, but scheduling more straight doubleheaders of seven innings each works for me.

The seven-inning games might allow for teams to make up games more easily within a scheduled series. Get rained out on a Tuesday night of a three-game set, just make it up with a pair of seven-inning contests on Wednesday or Thursday.

While we still wait to find out how many playoff teams we will see in 2021, I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed the expanded field of 16 last year. It made for some intriguing opening-round best-of-three series. With so many games on television, for a day or two it felt like Major League Baseball was emulating the early days of the NCAA men's basketball tourney. Action everywhere. That was fun, I felt.

So, of the 2020 rules, which ones do you see MLB keeping around going forward? What did you like or not like?

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