America’s pastime found itself on the verge of a drastic situation with the start of spring training getting pushed back, but on Day 99 of the MLB lockout fans got baseball back.
After months of negotiations, MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. April 7 is officially Opening Day, and baseball will incorporate some recent rule changes.
Here are just a few of the notable rule changes in the newest CBA ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/p6OBZfDjhT
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 10, 2022
The headline for the 2022 MLB season is introducing the universal designated hitter and 12-team expanded playoffs. The universal DH in the National League is an instant offensive spark for teams and opens up more options for aging players.
Bill Ripken, the retired MLB player, has been a longtime advocate for the universal DH and explained players could now extend their careers.
The normality has been a 10-team playoff since 2012 (except the 2020 pandemic season, which featured a 12-team playoff). The new playoff format adds another team per league. The addition of another team led to subtracting the “Game 163” tiebreaker instead; MLB will use a system to break down ties.
The reward for a solid regular season is that two teams can earn a bye. There is also a new look for the wild card round; now, there will be a three-game series featuring third vs. sixth seed and the fourth vs. fifth seed.
MLB’s 2022 season will feature 12 teams in the postseason! Here’s a look at the bracket based off 2021’s records. pic.twitter.com/Fa7bOVMDDH
— Bronx Pinstripes (@BronxPinstripes) March 11, 2022
The game will continue to evolve. If agreed upon within a 45-day window, MLB will implement more rule changes that can impact the way baseball is played in 2023. The rule changes include a pitch clock, banning defensive shifts, and larger bases.
Each of the rule changes impacts the play on the field in various ways. Larger bases are something players rallied for to entice more movement on the base path, hoping it will lead to more steals.
Banning the defensive shift allows hitters to find a hole, and in return, players are forced to cover more ground defensively to make spectacular plays. Sports Illustrated’s senior baseball writer, Tom Verducci, voiced on MLB Network that the most significant impact will come from a pitch clock because the pace will be drastically different.
“I will guarantee you the game will look different in 2023,” Verducci said. “A lot of these rules will wait and see how they play out, pitch clock the game will look differently. … Think about the game today, it’s not uncommon to see 30-35 seconds inbetween pitches. The immediate overnight change is the game is played … at a faster pace, and you’ll say wow ‘this is cool’ the rest of us will say it looks like baseball from the 1980s and ’90s. … This is what we’ll see, [and] it’s great.”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 7, 2022
The future of Major League Baseball is bright. Fans have been waiting patiently for baseball to adapt. This new CBA puts current and future players in the best position to succeed, quite possibly setting up for the best baseball fans have ever seen played on the diamond.