MLB Insider Reports Possible Extra Innings Changes, Discouraging High-Fives in 2020

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By RADIO.COM

As you can see in the video above, MLB insiders are reporting that there are no indications that the season will be canceled, as of now. In order to go ahead with the season in any capacity, however, it's widely expected that some significant changes will need to be made.

Most recently, Jon Heyman, an MLB insider for several RADIO.COM affiliates, reported some more speculative changes that he acquired from various sources.

Limited travel, expanded playoffs and fewer off days all seem like no-brainers in the league's quest to play a condensed season while remaining as safe and conscientious of player well-being as possible.

However, some of these potential changes raise eyebrows more than others. One element of Heyman's tweet that is extremely intriguing is the idea of starting extra innings with a runner on second base. What this has to do with playing during the coronavirus pandemic isn't immediately obvious, though it could serve to speed up games that reach extras. According to a baseball analytics database, a leadoff double gives a team a 60% chance to score in that inning, whereas the same data shows around a 27% chance with bases empty. The easier it is to score runs, the easier it is for the game to finish up at a quicker pace.

Another idea that had been floated around by Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was to hold an extra innings Home Run Derby to decide the fate of the game. Heyman shared with me that he doesn't believe this idea is too likely to be put into play as a potential change.

However, nothing can be ruled out. In a recent interview on 95.7 The Game, Bob Costas noted that given the circumstances and the unprecedented territory that MLB is entering, the league might as well "throw everything against the wall and see what sticks." Thus, potential rule changes such as an extra innings modifier, a way to speed up pace of play, and automated umpiring could all be things we see in a somewhat improvisational 2020 season.

Another interesting part of Heyman's report is the discouragement or prohibition of spitting and high-fiving. The intent is clear: both of these are germ spreaders, especially given the highly contagious nature of coronavirus. However, how the league would enforce a penalty system for breaking these rules, and how players would be able to break out of their lifelong habits would be an interesting development for us to watch as it unfolds.

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