The 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season has been widely controversial due to its implementation of new experimental rules. The changes have been perceived differently by fans across the country with no exception to Mt. Hebron’s own student body.
When the coronavirus was first declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the MLB had already been in spring training for a little under a month. With the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) shutting down shortly after, many questioned what the MLB season would look like and even if it would take place. To the dismay of many, but also predictably, the MLB postponed the beginning of the 2020 season.
After a few months of negotiations between the League and players association, the MLB was finally ready to announce its new plan to return to regular season play on July 24, 2020. The return to play came along with several new rules. Due to a very late start, the MLB season had been cut from its usual 162 game season to 60 games per team.
To try and combat the ever-growing issue of game times exceeding the average viewer’s attention span, a new rule was implemented for extra innings where a runner would be placed on second base.
In the National League, the DH (Designated Hitter) was finally allowed in the 2020 season instead of pitchers being required to hit. To accommodate the shortened season, the playoffs were expanded to allow 16 teams into the playoffs (8 per league) as opposed to the prior 12 (6 per league).
When Zachary Shindel, a Mt. Hebron student and MLB fan was asked about the universal DH he replied, “I liked it man. I feel like the pitchers in the NL (National League) only bunt. There are some NL pitchers that can hit but the 90% that can’t hurt their team”
In a similar response, Sam Cohen a member of the Mt. Hebron baseball team said, “I like it, I feel like having the DH in only one league is a little unfair.”
Both fans agreed that the universal DH was something that they like. It opens up opportunities for non-hitting pitchers throughout the league and creates more fairness between the American and National Leagues.
When the league added the runner on second in extra innings, it was met with much backlash from the fans of baseball.
“I don’t like it, I think it’s kind of stupid. If they’re trying to speed up the game there are other ways to do it. For example, limiting replay reviews,” said Cohen. He added that, “I don’t think it’s fair to the away team.”
One the other hand, Shindel was mixed. “They get the game to move along,” he said.
But in comparison, he stated, “I don’t think it’s fair to the away team. This is because if the home team holds the away team to no runs then they can bunt in a run to win the game as opposed to how the away team has to try and score as many runs as possible.”
While both thought the rule was unfair, Shindel saw some positive in its attempts to speed along games.
Shindel said, “The best of three series I don’t like because it gives the #1 seed no advantage. You can lose two games and you’re done.” He added, “I feel like eight teams from each league is too much in the playoffs and fails to provide an advantage to the higher seeds.”
While Cohen agreed that the competition was worse, he also felt alright with shorter playoff series.
“I didn’t like it because it made it easier for teams that were around .500 (win percentage) to make the playoffs. It takes competitiveness out of the season which I don’t like.”
Overall, the new MLB rules for the 2020 season were met with negativity. The only positively received rule was the universal DH. The only thing that fans can do now is to wait and see if the MLB will bring these rule changes back for next season which will be back to the normal format if Covid-19 is no longer a threat.