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MLB, MLBPA finalize health and safety protocols, agree to retain modified doubleheader, extra innings rules

The runner on second base in extras and seven-inning doubleheaders will return in 2021.

2020 World Series Game 2: Los Angeles Dodgers v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

MLB and the MLBPA have agreed on a deal to bring back seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner on second base to start extra innings in 2021. Those two changes were finalized as part of the health and safety agreement that the league and union agreed on late Monday night. Yahoo’s Hannah Keyser was first to report news of an impending deal on Monday.

The deal will not include the universal DH, which MLB believes is unrelated to health and safety since pitchers will have the ability to ramp up normally during spring training, as opposed to last summer, when they were rushed through an abbreviated summer camp and may have been risking injury at the plate due to their lack of conditioning work or batting practice.

While there’s always the possibility that the pandemic could get in the way of things — it looks like a rather small possibility considering that MLB made it through a 60-game season last year, the NFL just finished its 2020 season without missing a single game, and the NBA and NHL remain on track to complete their abbreviated seasons without a bubble — MLB is now set to play a full 162 game season in 2021, with Opening Day scheduled for April 1.

While Justin Turner’s positive COVID test and subsequent on-field celebration during the final game of the World Series cast a negative shadow over the league’s efforts, MLB arguably did a better job of instituting COVID-19 protocols and modifying them as it gained new information than the NFL, NBA, and NHL have done in the months since. They’ll look to further improve those protocols in 2021, as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports that they’ll study other leagues’ procedures and adopt the NBA’s contact-tracing technology in an effort to institute quicker and more efficient isolation as necessary: