OCT. 23: Manfred told Dan Patrick “all of the COVID-related rule changes,” including extra innings, the universal DH and seven-inning doubleheaders, are likely to “return to the status quo, absent an agreement with the players association” in 2021. Of course, a lack of a universal DH could have an effect on quite a few free agents, including Nelson Cruz. Meanwhile, Manfred once again did admit he would like to expand the playoffs, but not necessarily to 16 teams.
OCT. 22: Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes that a couple of 2020’s changes will stay as long-term additions to the MLB season, per Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. Manfred spoke in favor of an “expanded playoff format,” though he was careful to say that the 16-team format from this year might be a bridge too far.
Manfred would aim for something between the standard 10-team format at this year’s 16-teamer. He has previously advocated for a 14-team postseason, which would reward the top team in each league with a bye through the first round, with the bottom-6 playoff teams facing off in an elimination round much like this year’s Wild Card format to create the 4-team Divisional match-ups in each league.
Manfred is also in favor of keeping the man-on-second extra innings rule. Blum notes that the longest games this season were a pair of 13-inning affairs. The rule certainly drove more action in extra innings, and though eliminating the couple of marathon-type extra innings games would seem to be a small victory in the grand scheme of things, MLB can check that box, it would seem.
Once the season ends, Manfred will be back to the laborious process of negotiation with Head of the Players’ Union Tony Clark. It won’t be a total back-to-the-drawing-board situation, but given the temporary nature of this season, the changes that were made will need to be re-addressed this winter.