Baseball’s Most Unusual Season Is Halfway Over (Published 2020) (2023)


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The Dodgers are 22-8 after 30 games of a 60-game season that will be remembered for postponed games, health-driven rules and expanded playoffs.

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Baseball’s Most Unusual Season Is Halfway Over (Published 2020) (1)
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The logo of the 2020 All-Star Game looms over the action at Dodger Stadium from a billboard above the right-field pavilion. The game was supposed to be held last month in Los Angeles, for the first time in 40 years, but the coronavirus pandemic canceled it.

The Dodgers will get their turn in two years, after Atlanta next summer. In the meantime, they are playing like All-Stars almost every day. The Dodgers were one of four teams to reach the halfway point of this 60-game season on Sunday, doing so with the majors’ best record, at 22-8.

The problem for the Dodgers, who are seeking their first championship since 1988, could be the expanded playoff format. In an effort to maximize postseason revenue, Major League Baseball will welcome 16 teams to the playoffs this year, up from 10, eliminating the wild-card games in favor of eight best-of-three series.

An extra playoff series, especially one so brief, adds another impediment to every team’s title hopes. The eight that survive the new round will then play the traditional division series, championship series and World Series — possibly at a so-called bubble venue, to limit travel and reduce the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak.

In the regular season, the most radical changes to the sport have been timesaving measures that will not be used in October: a seven-inning format for games played as part of doubleheaders and a runner on second base at the start of all extra innings. Both had been used in the minors.

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“The one that people have been surprisingly positive about is the extra-innings rule,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said recently. “I’ve been quoted as saying I didn’t think it was going to be used in the big leagues. But I think people have really liked it. It’s exciting; that’s a good thing. Whether it becomes permanent or not, that remains to be seen.”

He added: “The one thing I want to be clear on: All these changes were health-driven. Every single one of them we made for one reason only. We weren’t looking to experiment, we weren’t looking to get something in the back door. We did them because our health experts said they were a good idea to do.”

New rules mean new wrinkles for keepers of M.L.B. records. A pitcher will not be credited with an official no-hitter or a perfect game if it comes in a seven-inning game; those achievements must last at least nine innings.

But the phantom runner on second base raises the fascinating possibility of a pitcher throwing a perfect game but still allowing a run. Here’s the situation: A pitcher works nine perfect innings of a scoreless game, then starts the 10th with a runner on second. A ground ball moves the runner to third, a sacrifice fly scores him, the next batter makes an out.

In that case, the pitcher retired all 30 hitters he faced but would still be charged with an unearned run and, possibly, a loss. But he would also get credit for a perfect game.

“Yes, because the perfect game definition is ‘no batters reach safely,’ and that player did not reach safely as a batter,” said John Labombarda, senior editor and baseball researcher for the Elias Sports Bureau. “But when I was first asked this question, my reaction was: What are the chances that this is going to happen? In baseball history, there’s been only two pitchers to take a perfect game into the 10th inning. The likelihood of it happening is so slim.”

In each of those instances, the pitcher lost his perfect game in extra innings: Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix in the 13th inning in Milwaukee in 1959 and Montreal’s Pedro Martinez in the 10th inning in San Diego in 1995.

Seattle’s Felix Hernandez threw the majors’ last perfect game, on Aug. 15, 2012, against the Tampa Bay Rays. This is now the longest stretch in the majors without a perfect game since the 13-year gap between Catfish Hunter’s for Oakland in 1968 and Len Barker’s for Cleveland in 1981.

Here are a few more interesting tidbits from the first half of a most unusual season:

Debuts for Tigers Prospects

Two top pitching prospects for the Tigers, Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize, made their major league debuts on consecutive nights last week against the Chicago White Sox. Detroit took both pitchers in the 2018 draft, 254 picks apart. Mize, a right-hander from Auburn, was chosen first over all, and Skubal, a lefty from Seattle University, was taken in the ninth round.

Mize became the first No. 1 overall pick in more than five years to debut for the team that drafted him. The last was Houston shortstop Carlos Correa, who went first over all in 2012 and arrived with the Astros three years later. Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, the first pick in 2015, was traded from Arizona to Atlanta before he reached the majors.

Mize was the 18th pitcher chosen first over all in the draft, which began in 1965. Only six have reached 100 victories in the majors: Mike Moore, Andy Benes, David Price, Tim Belcher, Floyd Bannister and Stephen Strasburg. Another, the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole — the first overall pick in 2011, by Pittsburgh — has 98 career wins.

Were Two-Way Players a Fad?


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Jake Cronenworth, a rookie, belted the San Diego Padres’ fifth grand slam in six games on Saturday. He has become a valuable and versatile contributor, with starts at second base, shortstop and first base — but no appearances on the mound.

Cronenworth was a two-way player at the University of Michigan and pitched in seven Class AAA games last year for the Tampa Bay Rays organization, which traded him and Tommy Pham in December. He also threw bullpen sessions for the Padres this spring. But as enticing as the idea of a two-way player has been in baseball lately, the concept has been tough to pull off.

Two of the top four picks in the 2017 draft — the Reds’ Hunter Greene and the Rays’ Brendan McKay — were selected as two-way players. But McKay appeared as a hitter only four times last season (once as a designated hitter, three times off the bench) and will miss the 2020 season after shoulder surgery. Greene had 30 at-bats in rookie league, then focused on pitching and had Tommy John surgery in 2018.

The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani also had the procedure that year, and he has pitched only twice since. Ohtani was shut down with a forearm strain after two starts this summer and was hitting just .181 as the designated hitter in 83 at-bats through Sunday. Without him, the Angels have continued their recent tradition of ineffective starting pitching; their starters’ E.R.A. was 5.96 through Saturday, worse than every team but the Tigers.

No. 93 Comes Off the Hanger


When reliever Pat Neshek signed with the Phillies before the 2018 season, he chose No. 93. Neshek, a student of baseball history, had searched the uniform number database at Baseball Reference to find a number that would be unique in the annals of the game.

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“People were like, ‘Why?’” Neshek said. “Nobody had it before — pretty simple explanation.”

Another reliever, Adam Cimber, became the first to wear No. 90 that season, first for San Diego and then for Cleveland. After Neshek took 93, only four numbers were still unused: 80, 86, 89 and 92.

No. 80 came off the board last year, when pitcher Ryan Eades wore it for Minnesota. Two more numbers fell this month, with St. Louis reliever Genesis Cabrera donning No. 92 on Aug. 15 and another Cardinals reliever, Jesus Cruz, using No. 86 three days later.

Now, the final frontier has arrived: No. 89, issued to Yankees pitcher Miguel Yajure, who was promoted to the majors last week. Yajure, a 22-year-old right-hander from Venezuela, is awaiting his quirkily groundbreaking debut.

Ray Chapman’s Other Distinction

Last Monday was the 100th anniversary of the death of Ray Chapman, the only major league player to be killed by a pitched ball. Chapman, the Cleveland Indians’ shortstop, was struck in the head by the Yankees’ Carl Mays at the Polo Grounds the day before. Mays, a submariner, had noticed Chapman moving his back foot, perhaps to bunt, as he delivered the fatal fastball up and in.

Chapman holds a lesser known distinction in baseball: He remains the single-season leader in sacrifice bunts, with 67 in 1917, a record that may stand forever. Without pitchers batting this season, teams were averaging 0.07 sacrifices per game through Saturday, the lowest percentage ever. Nine teams have zero sacrifice bunts all season.

Reds Pitcher Likes the ‘Higher Stakes’

Before opening day last month, the Reds’ Trevor Bauer pointed out that every start would feel more like a series than a single game. One game in a 60-game season is the equivalent of 2.7 games in the usual 162-game schedule.

“Higher stakes,” he wrote in a text message. “My favorite.”

It sure seems that way. Through the weekend, Bauer was 3-0 with a major-league-best 0.68 E.R.A. in four starts, including two seven-inning shutouts. He also led the majors in walks plus hits per inning pitched (0.57) and fewest hits per nine innings (2.7).

Bauer could become the first Cincinnati pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, which has been given out since 1956. Every other franchise that was active then has had at least two winners.


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What happens if an MLB game is delayed mid game? ›

If a game is suspended due to weather after the game is deemed “official,” the team who was leading when the game was suspended will be declared the winner.

What happens if a baseball game is delayed due to rain? ›

If rain forces a stoppage before it becomes official, the game will be resumed thereafter. If suspended after it becomes official, the team with the lead will be declared the winner. If they are tied, the game will be played later from the inning in which it was left.

Why is baseball not as popular anymore? ›

The rise of TV. The fact that 1960 is the last time baseball reigned supreme is notable. The sports landscape has changed dramatically from 62 years ago. One big reason baseball no longer finds itself the darling of American sports is competition and the dawn of the television age.

Do you get your money back if a baseball game is Cancelled? ›

The answer is yes, you can get a refund—but there are a few things you should know: If you bought your ticket using a credit card from the MLB or one of its teams, you don't need to do anything and an automatic refund will come to you.

Can an MLB game go on forever? ›

Baseball is sometimes called the "timeless game." Unlike football, basketball or soccer, there's no clock. Theoretically, the game could go on forever.

How long can a MLB game be in a rain delay? ›

Umpires are required by rule to wait at least 75 minutes to see if conditions improve; this is referred to as a rain delay and is not counted as part of the length of the game listed in the box score.

Does MLB refund rain outs? ›

No refunds will be given.

In the event of a rained out game and the stadium gates are not opened, guests should retain possession of their tickets (rain check). If the game is rescheduled, their tickets will be valid for the new game date.

Can a baseball game end in the 7th inning? ›

4-2-2 The game ends when the team behind in score has completed its turn at bat in the seventh inning, or any inning thereafter if extra innings are necessary. If the home team scores a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning, or in any extra inning, the game is terminated at that point.

Do they cancel baseball games because of rain? ›

If the game goes into a rain delay and is eventually called before 15 outs, the game is canceled. A canceled game means that the game will be made up later, usually as a doubleheader, and fans can redeem their tickets for that game.

Is MLB losing popularity? ›

MLB 2022 regular season attendance dropped 5.7 percent from 2019 campaign. Concerns about the MLB's waning popularity will only increase with the release of the league's attendance numbers for the 2022 season.

Is baseball losing its cool? ›

Baseball, however, has in fact lost its cool and its wild popularity. In 2019, only nine percent of Americans listed it as their favorite sport, attendance has been declining since 2012, and only seven percent of the people who watch baseball are under eighteen.

What changed with the baseballs 2022? ›

No manufacturing changes have been made for the 2022 season.” The new baseball, which is lighter compared to the one used at the start of the 2021 season, has brought offensive numbers down to levels not seen since the 1980s.

What happens if you buy tickets to game 7 and it doesn't happen Ticketmaster? ›

For canceled events, the original purchaser will receive any available refund (or may take advantage of an optional credit offer, if available), and no additional action is needed from the recipient of the transferred tickets.

Can an MLB pitcher return to game? ›

Once removed, players are not permitted to return to the game in any capacity. Types of substitutions include pinch-hitting, pinch-running, a pitching change and a defensive replacement. Barring injury or illness, the starting pitcher must pitch until at least one batter reaches base or is put out.

What happens if you buy tickets for a playoff game that doesn't happen? ›

Yes, of course! If a game does not take place due to a team being eliminated or a series ending, you will receive a full refund of your purchase. For example, if you purchased World Series tickets for the New York Yankees and they don't reach the World Series, you will receive a full refund.

Has there ever been a 0 0 MLB game? ›

The teams went 19 innings before darkness fell at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, forcing the game to be called on account of darkness. In the American League, the longest 0–0 game was played between the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers on July 16, 1909.

Do ball boys get paid in the MLB? ›

Currently, the rate of pay for bat boys and ball girls falls within $9-10 per hour. Because they typically work 8-9 hour days during each home game, the math adds up to an annual salary somewhere between $19,000 and $20,000 per season.

Can MLB end in a tie? ›

Baseball games used to end in ties more frequently because there was lack of light. The last time that a game ended in tie was 2016 between Pirates and Cubs due to weather conditions.

Can a baseball game be Cancelled due to weather? ›

See Note to Official Baseball Rule 7.02(a). If play is stopped because of weather and during the delay (before the tarps have been removed), light failure occurs and causes the game to be terminated, the game will be considered as having been terminated because of weather and shall not be a suspended game.

How many innings have to be played before rained out? ›

Inclement weather

In either case, no statistics are counted until the game becomes official. Since most professional baseball games are nine innings long, the fifth inning is used as the threshold for an official game.

Can a baseball game end before 9 innings? ›

If not terminated early, regulation games last until the trailing team has had the chance to make 27 outs (nine innings). If the home team is leading after the visiting team has made three outs in the top of the ninth inning, the home team wins and does not have to come to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

What do you wear to a rainy baseball game? ›

Be careful which materials you wear.

avoid suede (water will ruin it) and any leather that hasn't been treated with a protectant. Also avoid wearing denim and cotton since these fabrics tend to absorb and hold in moisture. A water-resistant, breathable rain jacket is highly, highly recommended.

What happens if you buy baseball tickets and it rains? ›

In baseball, a rain check is a ticket issued to spectators which admits them to the ballpark at a later date at no additional cost to the ticket holder.

What happens if a major league baseball game is rained out? ›

When a rainout occurs the affected game can either be delayed/postponed or rescheduled. If the event is postponed or delayed due to weather, the game is usually played later that same day, once the weather clears.

What is the 10 run rule in baseball? ›

By conference rule, or mutual consent of both coaches before the contest, a game may be stopped only after seven innings if one team is ahead by at least 10 runs. Each team must play an equal number of innings unless shortened because the home team needs none or only part of its half of the final inning.

Can an inning go on forever? ›

In the real sense, just like the entire baseball game, an inning does not have a time limit. It ends when a team has scored three outs, so an inning can last forever if three outs have not been scored. However, according to statistics, a single inning takes an average of 20-30 minutes to complete.

What is the longest rain delay in MLB history? ›

A looooooooooong rain delay. The longest single in-game rain delay in Phillies history at 3 hours, 36 minutes.

Has a World Series game ever been rained out? ›

The last World Series rainout was Game 6 in 2011, between the Rangers and the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Why can't MLB players play in the rain? ›

Since much of the field is comprised of dirt, rain turns it into mud and can make it nearly impossible to run on. That is why often times the baseball field will be covered in tarp if it starts to rain heavy during a game.

How late can a baseball game go? ›

Bottomline is there is no time constraints. Some local rules don't allow an inning to start after midnight in which case they usually play the next morning if the team is still in town.

Will the MLB ever expand again? ›

Major League Baseball added its 29th (Arizona Diamondbacks) and 30th (Tampa Bay Rays) teams before the 1998 season and has held firm at that number for more than two decades. In a few years, MLB expansion is expected to return.

What sports are becoming less popular? ›

playoffs, N.H.L. playoffs, Major League Baseball regular season and playoffs, United States Open tennis, United States Open golf, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and college football have all had ratings declines of at least 25 percent compared with 2019.

Is the NFL more popular than MLB? ›

No, when you look at the average number of fans who attend each game, football comes out way ahead. Here's the math: The NFL has 32 teams, each plays 16 games, so that's 256 games per season. The MLB has 30 teams, each plays 162 games, so that's 2,430 games per season.

Is MLB banning the shift in 2023? ›

Major League Baseball passed a sweeping set of rules changes it hopes will fundamentally overhaul the game, voting Friday to implement a pitch clock and ban defensive shifts in 2023 to hasten the game's pace and increase action.

At what temperature should you not play baseball? ›

If the temperature is 105° F or higher, games and practices should be postponed or cancelled. Temperature means either ambient (still air) or heat index. The Sports Director or Sports Coordinator will determine the official temperature, and make a decision on games.

Why don't they reuse baseballs in MLB? ›

Baseballs are replaced every three to seven pitches on average. This can depend on what happened during a play, how it is used, the quality of the ball, and whether or not it is damaged. Wild pitches and passed balls are among the most reasons why balls are replaced.

What is different about MLB baseballs in 2022? ›

Last year MLB said the "2022 season will be played with only balls manufactured after the production change," meaning the deadened ball we were supposed to get in 2021. That appears to have happened.

Will pitchers bat in 2022? ›

Expanded rosters, 'Ohtani rule' among 2022 rule changes

Pitchers can remain in the batting order after they are replaced on the mound. Doubleheaders will be nine innings.

Did MLB ban the shift for 2022 season? ›

Major League Baseball's new Joint Competition Committee has voted to ban defensive shifts and to add a 15-second pitch clock beginning in the 2023 season.

Does Screenshotting a Ticketmaster ticket work? ›

Can I use a screenshot of my mobile ticket to enter? Your barcode includes technology to protect it, so you won't be able to use screenshots or print outs.

Do tickets actually resell on Ticketmaster? ›

When you have tickets you can no longer use, sign in to your Ticketmaster account and look for the Sell button in your ticket order. In 3 quick steps, you can choose to list one or all of your tickets for the price you paid. Once your tickets are listed on the Exchange, your job is done!

Why can I not resell my ticket on Ticketmaster? ›

Not all events or tickets are available for Fan-to-Fan Resale. If the button doesn't appear, is grayed out or you receive a message that the Event Organizer hasn't activated resale, your tickets aren't eligible for resale. In order to resell your tickets for events in the U.S., you must have a U.S. bank account.

Can you hit a ball after it bounces? ›

Yes. This is treated like any other pitch. The ball can be batted and if the batter is touched by the bounced pitch, he is awarded first base on a hit by pitch.

Can a pitcher get a win after 5 innings? ›

First, a starting pitcher must pitch at least five innings (in a traditional game of nine innings or longer) to qualify for the win. If he does not, the official scorer awards the win to the most effective relief pitcher.

Can you pull a pitcher and put him back in? ›

A pitcher may be removed and return as a pitcher once per inning, providing the return does not violate rules of substitution (re-entry), charged conferences or another pitching restriction. Here is an example of how it works: Tom starts the inning on the mound and faces one batter.

How much are floor seats at a playoff game? ›

If you wonder, “how much do courtside NBA tickets cost?” The answer is that courtside tickets for an NBA game will range from $300 – $50,000. It's extremely impressive for the range of courtside tickets. There are many reasons for this price range: Popularity of a team.

Do MLB playoff tickets get cheaper closer to the game? ›

This can be a tricky game to play, but if there's a large number of tickets available for a particular game on third-party sites, prices will start to come down the closer you get to game time.

Does Ticketmaster refund if game doesn't happen? ›

The refund always applies to the entire order and to all tickets in the order. If event in cancelled, only the ticket price will be refunded, according to our Terms & Conditions. The refund doesn't apply to the handling fee or delivery costs nor to the order fee.

How long can baseball game be delayed? ›

You can have more than one rain delay during a Major League Baseball Game. There is no limit to the number of rain delays during a regular baseball game. Nor is there any rule on how long each rain delay should be.

What is the penalty for delay of game in baseball? ›

If the batter delays the game by stepping out of the batter's box without a permissible action taking place, a strike is called. A strike is also called if the batter fails to enter the batters box within twenty seconds.

What is the penalty for delay of game? ›

In American football, an offensive team is penalized five yards for delay of game if it fails to put the ball in play by either snap or free kick before the play clock expires. This time limit varies by league, and is often 25 seconds from the time the referee signals the ball ready for play.

What happens to your baseball tickets if it rains? ›

No refunds will be given.

In the event of a rained out game and the stadium gates are not opened, guests should retain possession of their tickets (rain check). If the game is rescheduled, their tickets will be valid for the new game date.

Is it legal to throw your glove at the ball? ›

When a fielder throws his glove at a batted ball, it is a violation of baseball rule, 5.06(4)(C), the detached equipment rule. There is no penalty if the glove does not make contact with the ball but if the glove makes contact, all runners, including the batter runner are awarded three bases.

Can you run the bases with your bat? ›

He confirmed what we already knew: “There is no rule that prohibits a batter from carrying his bat around the bases. This would be legal as long as he does not use the bat to interfere with the play,” Marazzi wrote in an email.

Is it illegal to catch a baseball with your hat? ›

You can't use your cap to make a catch on-field, but there's no rule against using your cap to help you make the catch.

Can the defense get called for delay of game? ›

The offensive and defensive sides can get called for delay of game penalties, but the instances for which a team gets a delay of game penalty are different. In the case of the offensive side, they have a play clock to adhere to.

Does a goal cancel a delayed penalty? ›

In the NHL, if the non-offending team scores a goal in a delayed penalty situation, then it is treated as if a goal was scored during that penalty. Thus, if the delayed penalty is a minor, the penalty is waved off.

Is there a time limit for throw ins? ›

Throw In Rules

Here are the rules of throw ins in basketball: Players have five seconds to throw the ball into play. The ball must pass the plane of the baseline or sideline. No player can interfere or touch the in-bounding player during the throw-in.


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