Even with the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement before the 2022 season, it seems the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) and the league are moving toward an agreement for the upcoming season. Today, the two sides formally approved health and safety protocols regarding COVID-19 for the 2021 campaign.
With no universal designated hitter and no expanded playoffs before 2022, it looked as if no revisions from the 2020 shortened season would last. However, both sides agreed on seven-inning double-headers and the runner starting on second base for extra innings.
Most traditional fans do not agree with these rules, but they make sense for the 2021 season. Starting extra innings with a runner on second base provides a bit of an advantage to the away team. Additionally, seven-inning doubleheaders add a little too much volatility into games, but it is understandable why both the union and MLB approved the shortened extra-inning games. If COVID-19 issues force teams to postpone games and play doubleheaders, pitching rotations will be taxed since the plan is to play a full 162 games, especially if players and the coaching staffs are not vaccinated by the start of the season. Each of the other major sports has experienced its fair share of postponed games.
It will be interesting to see if these rules persist for 2022. The CBA looks to be a conflict that could potentially end in no agreement and possibly a strike. Baseball is right around the corner, which is all that matters. It's best to take it one season at a time, especially given the ongoing pandemic. All these complications aside, baseball fans can rejoice because pitchers and catchers report next week!