Baseball, or some form of it, has been around for a very long time. There is even evidence that the Persian, Egyptian, and Greek cultures played games involving bats and balls. With such a long history, it makes sense that the rule of baseball would have changed over time.
Modern US baseball teams reevaluate their rules every year. The changes they make are typically quite small, but they are still very important. Even though the 2020 baseball season has been disrupted by the coronavirus, baseball leagues of every level have instituted new rules and changes to the game. It is those rules and changes that this article describes in detail.
Rule changes for each level
Most professional baseball fans are aware of the rule changes the MLB announced every year. Batsfinder, a website dedicated to baseball products, provided the following information. If you follow baseball at all, you will run into this information. But, it is not just the highest levels of baseball that see rule changes. College, high school, and younger levels will each make their own rule changes. Below are the rule changes for MLB, NCAA, NFHS, and Little League baseball for the 2020 season.
The MLB instituted a number of changes to the 2020 season. These include a three-batter minimum, active roster limits, reduction in challenge time, and restrictions to injured list reinstatements and the option period for pitchers.
The MLB’s rule changes are designed to make the game faster, fairer, and more fun to watch. For example, the three-batter minimum should cut down on the number of mid-inning pitching changes.
The active roster limits and restrictions to injured list reinstatements and the option period for pitchers are a little more complicated and come with a lot of explanation. Yet, they govern the way that players are moved around and used by a team. These rule changes could have a big impact in the fantasy baseball community.
In the NCAA, all catchers will be required to wear a NOCSAE chest protector. Also, a new twenty-second action rule will come into effort. Clearly, there are not many baseball rule changes to the NCAA.
However, the required chest protector is an important switch. It should help to prevent commotio cordis, a rare condition that causes cardiac arrest and death when the chest is hit by an object traveling at high velocity. Baseballs flying towards the catcher more than
qualify as a high-velocity object. This small rule change could have a big impact in player health.
High school baseball is governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The NFHS only changed one rule for the 2020 baseball season, which focuses on the Designated Hitter (DH). The new rule states that the DH “can be used in two ways.”
The DH change was made to help coaches and pitchers. Coaches have more options for keeping their best players playing. Pitchers are better able to protect their arms with this new rule.
Little League baseball is not without its own rule changes. They have made a number for the 2020 season. Most of these rule changes are actually additions or clarifications of pre-existing rules. For example, rule 9.01 (d) gives the umpire power to disqualify any player, coach, manager, or substitute for unsportsmanlike conduct. The change requires that the team and those responsible be given a warning the first time, and be ejected from the game for the second offense.
The other Little League rule changes apply to tournament rules and guidelines. Essentially, they are there to make tournaments go smoother. The changes to the rules do not significantly affect Little League play.
Why these changes matter
Admittedly, the changes described above are a little nit-picky. If you are or have a baseball player, or play fantasy baseball, it is still important to keep abreast of the changes to the game. Understanding the new rules ensures you play the game correctly and safely. It can also mean the difference between a good fantasy baseball year and a bad one.
As you can tell in the quick breakdown of the rule changes above, the younger leagues typically make changes to protect the health of their players. The MLB, on the other hand, makes changes to increase the appeal of the game and keep their viewers interested.
The difference between the MLB and other leagues makes sense. The MLB is all about viewership and fans, especially since their popularity has declined in recent years. The younger leagues, though, have a responsibility to their growing players to keep them safe.
What is interesting in this entire discussion is that so far the 2020 baseball season at all levels has been canceled. Yet, the rule changes will stay in effect whenever baseball returns to the U.S., in addition to whatever new rules are instituted for 2021.