Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the Players Association have reportedly agreed to the health and safety protocols for the 2021 season. Hannah Keyser of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report on Monday that the two sides were on the verge of agreement that would include the return of seven-inning doubleheaders, along with the extra-inning rule that features a runner starting the inning on second base. Keyser also reported that the universal designated hitter would not be part of the 2021 season (it’s still likely to be a thing again soon, but we’ll seemingly have to wait at least one more year).

Joel Sherman of the New York Post later reported that a deal — featuring the same rules Keyser reported — was official.

The seven-inning doubleheader was mostly supported in the 60-game 2020 season, especially with how many games needed to be made up/rescheduled due to COVID-19. While 2021 will be a 162-game season (or that’s the hope, anyway), it makes sense to keep the seven-inning doubleheaders with the possibility of — potentially a lot — more COVID-related postponements. Additionally, it’s something that both sides may be interested in keeping around long-term anyway, especially with the constant increase in pitching injuries and the desire to protect arms.

The runner-on-second rule has a very divided audience, and there’s some debate about how effective it really is in speeding up the conclusion to a game. Many extra-inning games last year featured teams matching each other for several innings; perhaps putting a runner on first base would be a more efficient method? Whatever the case, both sides feel a runner-on-second is the way to go, at least for now during the pandemic.

Additionally, Sherman reports that MLB will add “NBA-type tracing technology that allows for better discovery of close contacts if/when there is a positive COVID-19 test.”

Spring Training is right around the corner, scheduled to begin on Feb. 21. Opening Day is scheduled for April 1.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.