rules of the game

If You Could Change 1 MLB Rule This Season, What Would It Be?

Changes to the schedule, certain roster-related rules and the game day experience will be necessary if/when the 2020 MLB season begins.

MLB will likely also have to get creative to complete a shortened regular season. Several ideas have already been laid out, from an isolated two-state format with spring training sites Arizona and Florida housing the league to weekly doubleheaders with plenty of unique changes along the way.

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We asked a bunch of our baseball people which rule(s) they'd change if they were commish for a day.

Ricky Bottalico: Phillies analyst, former MLB closer

I like the split-season idea with the Phillies and Yankees being in the same division, though not seeing your other half until the World Series would suck.

Unrelated to 2020 circumstances, my number one rule change would be to move the bullpens inside, behind the dugout. This would speed up games. Why are these players being summoned from 500 feet away?

Casey Feeney: Sr. coordinating producer, Phillies Pre/Post

Allow teams to forfeit games. 

Anyone who grew up playing youth baseball knows about the "mercy rule." So why not bring a variation of that to the majors? Allowing teams to decide if they want to end a game early would serve several purposes:

• Shortens games. Even the most ardent fan will acknowledge baseball games are too long. It's one thing to be in the fourth hour of a 7-7 game in the 9th. But when it's 15-2 in the 7th, it's just a bad product.

• Protects players. Rather than counting on one reliever to eat up 3-4 innings or asking more important bullpen pieces to add to their heavy workload, this allows teams to save their pitchers. It also eliminates the farce of position players pitching.

• Increased strategy. Baseball's beauty is in its strategy. This plan adds another strategic layer. When does a manager decide to call it a night? Is the 5th inning of a 10-run game too early? If a player is trying to keep a hit streak alive, does the skipper prolong the game?

This plan would create plenty of conversation while expediting games, both of which might be vital if there's to be a 2020 season.

Sean Kane: Phillies Pregame & Postgame Live producer

Start every extra inning with a runner on second base.

Baseball has experimented with this rule in the minor leagues for the past two years and it would be perfect for what could be a very unique 2020 season. MLB will likely try to jam in as many games as possible over a limited number of days. Off days will be few and far between. No one wants to be playing 14- or 15-inning games under those circumstances. So if a game is tied after nine innings, start every extra inning with a runner on second base.  

The Dodgers' Justin Turner recently suggested that MLB should decide games tied after 10 innings with a Home Run Derby. I'm not willing to go that far. But starting extra innings with a runner on second base would significantly increase scoring chances and limit the number of extra-inning marathons. 

Tom McCarthy: Phillies play-by-play man

Whenever we get back, for the first month of games, I would like rosters to expand to two extra pitchers and one extra position player. Then if we get started within two or three weeks, there isn't as much of an issue when it comes to starters being stretched out.

Gregg Murphy: Phillies field reporter

No more instant replay. I get the idea of "getting it right," but we managed to have a pretty great game without it for a century. Not only would it bring back the human element of umpiring, but it would also eliminate delays and spur on more epic exchanges between umpire and manager.

My change(s)

I can't get over the idea of uniformed players spread out in the lower section of stands as opposed to dugouts to keep their distance. It just would create so many new, fun visuals and a different way to shoot a baseball game.

I also think that because of the current roster freeze, teams with impending free agents should have a longer exclusive window to re-sign the player after the season. Instead of the standard five days, maybe make it 10 days or two weeks. That at least gives the incumbent a team more of a chance to make up for lost negotiating time this spring/summer.

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