As part of health and safety protocols Major League Baseball implemented for the 2020 season, one change theoretically should reduce the number of heated exchanges between players, managers and umpires.
Such unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and further promote physical distancing between individuals on the playing field. Players and managers are instructed to maintain sufficient physical distancing from all umpires and the opposition whenever possible.
Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field, are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions.
Last season the Los Angeles Dodgers had four ejections. The first was Russell Martin on April 13, for arguing balls and strikes. Justin Turner was then tossed from a June game for the same reason, Cody Bellinger followed suit in July.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts represented the club’s final ejection of the season, as he argued balls and strikes from the dugout during a September game. Jeremie Rehak (Martin), Chad Fairchild (Turner), Dan Iassogna (Bellinger) and Greg Gibson (Roberts) were the umpires behind the ejections.
Turner also received a one-game suspension due to contact made with Fairchild, though won his appeal.
The physical distancing guidelines also apply to first- and third-base coaches, who are instructed to remain in or behind the coach’s box and not approach a baserunner, fielder or umpire while on the field.
Furthermore, players on opposite teams are prohibited from socializing, fraternizing, or coming within six feet of one another before a game, during warmups, in between innings, or after the game.
MLB has also eliminated the customary pregame exchanging of lineup cards. Instead, each team will input their lineup into a mobile application provided by the league.
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