Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Saturday that Major League Baseball barely tested for performance enhancing drugs during the 2020 season. He reported that during the shutdown period there was no testing – which isn’t surprising if we’re all being honest with each other. But once the season began, testing was “down considerably”, with many players only being tested one time during the 60-game season, and in some cases it happening in the final week of the season.

MLB Owners want expanded playoffs for a DH

Jeff Passan of ESPN is reporting that the players want the designated hitter to return to the National League. But the owners aren’t signing off on it until they get something that they want in return. What is it that they want? They want more teams to make the playoffs.

For teams in the National League, they have to hope this is resolved rather quickly. Free agency has already begun. Teams are trying to build for the 2021 season. It makes it tougher to build a team if you don’t know how the rules are going to apply for your team.

Minor League restructuring is coming

Following what would have been the end of the 2020 minor league season, had it taken place, the agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball that governed how the two organizations interacted with each other ended. MLB used their power to basically take over the organization and will now be running the show.

Part of that is the elimination of about 40 teams and the rookie levels between the complex level that is played during the summer at the spring training sites, and the Low-A level. But another part of the plan was to move around teams and leagues to make for less travel. There’s long been a rumor that the Florida State League would be moving from an Advanced-A League to a Low-A League, while the Midwest League would be moving from a Low-A League to an Advanced-A League.

At least part of that seemed to become official yesterday when the New York Yankees announced that their team in the Florida State League, the Tampa Tarpons, would become their new Low-A affiliate. While nothing is official yet with the Cincinnati Reds and who their affiliates will be in 2021, if they were to keep their same four affiliates in full-season baseball leagues it would mean that Daytona would become the Low-A team, while Dayton would become with Advanced-A team.

Justin Turner goes unpunished for returning to the field

If you watched the final game of the World Series you saw Justin Turner removed from the game in the 8th inning. Shortly after you learned that it happened because he had tested positive for COVID-19. Shortly after that you saw Turner back on the field, celebrating with his teammates – at times without a mask on. Yes, we all know that he was with his teammates during the game. His teammates were not the only people on the field after the game.

If you are confused as to how that was allowed, join the club. Major League Baseball security reportedly told him he wasn’t allowed. The Dodgers staff apparently told him that he was. The entire situation was mishandled from the very beginning. Prior to that game, every time a player around Major League Baseball had an inconclusive test, which Turner had and MLB found out about in the 2nd inning, it was treated as a positive test until confirmed otherwise. This was in the protocols agreed upon by MLB and the MLBPA. Baseball’s brass chose not to treat this particular incident as such.

Baseball had gone nearly two months without a positive test. The “bubble” was working. Until it wasn’t. Perhaps the people making the decisions during game 6 were simply hoping the test would come back negative and no one would be any wiser about what happened. That didn’t happen.

After about a week, Rob Manfred “investigated” what happened and decided that Turner, nor the Dodgers, would be punished.

28 Responses

  1. LDS

    Not that I have a vote, but no to universal DH and no to expanded playoffs. Yes to a normal schedule and fans in the stands.

  2. SteveLV

    As a Dayton native, would be great to see them move up a level. Hope it happens for them – a great baseball town!

    • TR

      Plus Dayton has a first class ball park.

    • JayTheRed

      I agree Dayton I feel could easily support a AAA team The stadium there is top class.

    • 2020ball

      +1000. I’ve been there only once, but I have fond memories of that game. Would love to see them move up.

  3. Bred

    The DH is coming, and it is good for the current Red’s roster, so might as well accept it. Expanding the playoffs in a reasonable way would be good for baseball. It would keep fans eyes on the tube, put butts in seats, and generate more media coverage. Change does not have to be bad. Sometimes it is actually good.

  4. Redleg4life

    Honestly I don’t like the idea of a national league dh but I do think it would help our team so I’m not sure. Expanded playoffs would also help our team but again not sure if I like the idea.

  5. MK

    Reds need to keep DH so they can rid of the black hole which is Votto’s defense. I counted at least 3 times his defense helped to fuel an opponents victory.

    • JayTheRed

      Seemed like to me it was about every 5 game or so . I hope they keep the DH.. Pitchers are not good hitters overall. It feels like a waste of time to have the pitcher hit. Being a pitcher I also sucked at hitting so that’s probably where I get my opinion on this.

  6. Jimbo44CN

    Sorry, but I do not like the DH. Love seeing pitchers hit, and love that they have to get in that box after throwing at someone on the other team. Just makes the whole game much more interesing to me.

    • 2020ball

      I’ve been moved to the middle on the DH. I’m against it as a purist, but someone once argued to me that they didn’t notice when there was or wasn’t a DH, and that always resonated with me. It’s presence this year didnt bother me at all, maybe since my 2 NL teams benefited from it, so I guess I’m agnostic to it at this point. That said, I’m not overlooking the fact that next year may be the last time we will see it, and I will certainly appreciate that for what it is.

    • 2020ball

      Let me be clear though, my opinion has always been that if you’re stepping on the field for defense, you should have to have a spot on offense. Giving the DH and the pitcher a free ride for their deficiencies isn’t the way baseball was meant to be played in my mind.

  7. gusnwally

    I don’t like the DH at all. However it will be here in 2022 when we get the new CBA. So let us go ahead and get it for this coming year. That is while we have the players to fit it to our team.

    • Mark Moore

      Yep. DH in 2021 only advances the inevitable by a year. I think we’re a better team with the DH, especially as it gives us options for Votto and (to a lesser extent) Winker.

      I’d want to see what “more playoff teams” actually looks like, but I’m not opposed to it.

  8. MBS

    I don’t particularly want a DH in the national league. The one thing that is worse than the NL adopting the DH, is the AL continuing to hold an advantage over all NL teams. So, I’m either all DH, or no DH, and since no DH will never happen in the AL, I am forced to say yes to the DH in the NL. Wow that was a convoluted grouping of words, I hope it was clear. Also why not more playoff teams? Baseball needs all the interest it can get. Everyone reading baseball articles this early into the offseason will continue to watch either way. Getting more playoff games will increase viewership in the sport, for a week or so.

  9. CI3J

    I think from a money-making perspective, expanded playoffs are a no-brainer. If more teams are “in the hunt” for the playoffs, that means fans will stay interested in their teams for longer, and will show up at games more. But, if they are going to expand the playoffs, they need to shorten the season. They moved to the 162 game season in 1962, before that it bounced between 154 games or 140 games a few times.

    So how about this: Expand the playoffs to 10 teams per league, and shorten the season to 152 games per year, so playoffs start in mid-September. The top team in each division + the next best overall record vs the remaining 6 teams with the best overall record, no matter the division. 1st round: Bottom 4 teams play each other (10 vs 7, 9 vs 8), best out of 3. Then the 1st round starts, best out of 5. 2nd round, best out of 7, 3rd round, best out of 7.

    This means each year, 66% of the league would make the playoffs. I know it makes the playoffs seem a little less “special”, but think of March Madness with 64 teams playing. The wild “anything could happen” atmosphere would be a huge draw, I feel, but also would reward teams for doing well in the regular season and, of course, it would draw a lot more attention and money for MLB.

    It could be this is the exact shakeup MLB needs to bring interest back to the sport.

  10. greenmtred

    The DH seems inevitable. As for expanded playoffs, I believe it would cheapen the accomplishments of teams that are actually good: The spector of sub-.500 teams in the postseason is less benign than Scrooge’s Christmas ghosts. Baseball’s decreasing popularity has much more to do with the increasingly static and dumbed-down nature of the game than it does with angst over the lack of mediocre teams in the playoffs. In my opinion.

  11. RedFuture

    If the NL faces pressure to use the DH, I’d like to see them push for a compromise solution that I call the Alternate Hitter (AH). The AH would allow managers to choose just one pitcher at-bat per game for the Alternate Hitter. Use of an AH would allow the pitcher to stay in the game and continue pitching. After hitting for the pitcher the AH becomes eligible to return to the game later as part of a double-switch which replaces the current pitcher and a defensive player. This rule would inject even more strategy into the NL game. Importantly, pitchers with a modicum of hit-tool are still able to use their advantage over opponent pitchers, albeit less often. Secondly, players chosen as AH need to have at least some defensive skill to take full advantage of the AH rule.

    • Doc

      As long as we are going outside the box, I would like to see the DH position require that the DH must be a player who has not yet reached the end of arbitration eligibility. I am not a DH fan but accept that in this day and age pitchers are way over-matched as hitters. However, I don’t like that the DH keeps players around long after their ability to play baseball has diminished interminably. Make the DH position a spot for injecting more youth into game.

    • 2020ball

      hm…interesting thought. I dunno if I’d include the making him re-eligible — I’d personally just say that sub is out unless you insert him into the game and take the pitcher out — but I actually like the idea in theory. Outside the box thinking is always a thumbs-up for me. +1

  12. Roger Garrett

    Old school guy here and I do understand the need to make changes from time to time just don’t like the DH at all.Yes it fits the Reds right now because we have a ton of guys that are really just DH’s but if a kicker in the NFL isn’t really a football player then how can a DH be a baseball player?Probably are more pros then cons from all perspectives and it probably will happen.I never understood how the other league approved it to begin with but its a good job if you can get one.Next up is the designated runner for the designated hitter.

  13. Chris Mo

    The absolute result of the three true outcomes (walk, strikeout, homerun) are what is destroying the game i remember and love. It is boring to watch. Lets go way outside the box, and flatten the mound or move it back a few feet. Bring back the days of get them on, get them over, get them in. When strategy was more than just what pitcher is going to face which batter. Stop building small ballparks like Great American. Sad to say, DH and expanding playoffs will help the game because it should increase revenue. Throw in more 7 inning double headers (i thought i would hate, but I liked very much) and play 162 games, just do it in a shorter season.

    • Doug Gray

      As a former pitcher, I’m strongly against moving the distance of the mound. It’s what we have trained on at 60′ 6″ since we were about 12-14 depending on what kind of league you played in. It changes the physics for everything. I just can’t imagine that moving the mound back wouldn’t lead to significant arm injuries happening.

      Changing the height of the mound…. that is something I could get behind a little bit more. It changes a few things, but I don’t believe it would lead to arm injuries because of pitchers trying to compensate for the changing of physics on the baseball from a different distance.

    • TR

      I agree on 7 inning double headers which produced some exciting games this past season. It’s a long time ago, but I grew up when most Sundays in a season had a doubleheader. That made for some good discussions with neighbors about the state of the Reds on the front porch.

  14. 2020ball

    Apparently if anyone doesnt want the DH to return, they have to root for the owners to quash it.

    The DH for expanded playoffs straight up seems like a windfall for the owners IMO.

  15. RedFuture

    2020ball: One of the advantages of allowing the AH to be double switched back into the game later if desired is the following. Your back-up catcher could be used as the AH but is still on the bench to protect against injury to the starting catcher.

    • 2020ball

      yeah I can see how it might benefit to have that option, but I guess I just think it should be similar to any currently standing substitution rules. It feels simpler and cleaner that way IMO, and prevents managers from finding a way to exploit it.