NEW YORK – The Major Baseball and Players Association reached agreement on health protocols for the 2021 season on Monday.
This agreement ensures that the seven running double programs and the runner on the second pad in extra innings are back for one season in a row.
However, this agreement does not include the addition of the specified hitter in the National or the increase in the number of teams in the playoffs. Last year, 16 teams made playoffs instead of 10. Major baseball proposed expanding the playoff format to 14 teams, but withdrew the idea in January.
In the last season, the increase in the number of playoff teams materialized just a few hours before the campaign’s first pitch.
Last year, 78 matches required extra innings, and the two longest matches ended in the 13th inning. Every season since 1901 had seen at least one game in 15 or more innings.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of 45 matches, and only two of them were not picked up. To compensate for lost games, there were 56 double programs, the highest amount since 1984.
The agreement includes more sophisticated contact tracking, which includes the use of technology, and more code of conduct to comply with new COVID-19 protocols.
Spring camps start on February 17 and the season begins on April 1. Last week, the Players Association rejected a proposal from Major League Baseball to postpone the start of the camps and the season. This plan would have reduced the schedule to 154 games instead of 162.
The start of the last season has been postponed from March 26 to July 23 due to the pandemic. Each team’s schedule has been reduced to 60 matches.
– By Ronald Blum, Associated Press
The Canadian Press