While there is hope, optimism and intentions from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to play a 2020 season, that ultimately will be dictated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and whether the country succeeds at flattening the curve.
What is certain is a 2020 MLB season will not be played in its traditional form. Commissioner Rob Manfred has already ruled out a 162-game season, and said only the hope is to still play a significant number of contests during the year.
That likely will entail multiple doubleheaders per week, which Manfred said could lead to a discussion of not playing nine innings. Moreover, cancelling the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium is also believed to be a possibility.
With new rules and changes likely to be implemented this year, Justin Turner proposed ending extra-inning games with a home run derby if they extend beyond the 10th, via SportsNet LA:
“This is my opportunity to push for a home run derby in extra innings. Instead of playing 17 innings, you get one extra inning, you play the 10th inning, and no one scores, then you go to a home run derby. You take each team’s three best hitters and you give them all five outs and see who hits the most homers. You want to keep fans in the stands until the end of the game.
“I know when I go to hockey games, I actually enjoy watching shootouts. That keeps me in my seat, so maybe a Home Run Derby will do that as well.”
Turner expanded on his thoughts through posts to Twitter, explaining a coach would throw to the selected batters and they would only get five outs or 10 swings each, under his scenario.
At the bases of his argument is preventing possible injury (particularly pitchers) in the event players would be facing a schedule with doubleheaders and fewer off days than they are accustomed to.
MLB has yet to implement any change in rules for extra innings, though did so in the Minor Leagues and with the All-Star Game last year. Now, if teams are tied through nine innings of a Midsummer Classic, a runner is placed on second base to begin each inning and players are permitted to re-enter the game as pinch-runners.
Beginning with the 2009 tournament, the World Baseball Classic implemented a rule that puts runners on first and second base starting in the 11th inning.
The Los Angeles Dodgers theoretically would be well-positioned for an end-of-game home run derby. They set a National League and franchise home run record last year with 279 long balls, led by 47 from Cody Bellinger.
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