Rob Manfred did a lengthy interview with Chris Russo on SiriusXM on Thursday, and he provided a lot of hints about what changes for this MLB season will become permanent and which ones are temporary.
On expanded playoffs
“While I’m in favor of expanded playoffs, I see the 16-team format as purely a 2020 issue. If we have expanded playoffs after 2020, I don’t think it would be the 16-team format.” Manfred mentioned that they were already talking about expanding the playoffs before the pandemic hit, and that 12-14 teams is more ideal than 16 going forward.
On DH in the National League
“I think the decision next year on the DH is going to be driven largely by the National League teams. They’ve had experience with it. It does address — what are some serious issues? I mean, injuries to pitchers on the base paths, the desire to have a little more offense in the game in terms of action and scoring. I think that has a chance, but no decision has been made.”
On runner on 2nd in 10th inning
“There’s not a lot of silver linings to 2020. I think one of the few is the health situation forced us to do some things that we probably would not have done otherwise, and even at the outset, even against the backdrop of the public health situation, people really opposed to them. But when they saw the things used in games, it softened the opposition. And that’s a good thing for our game. Give people a chance to see the change, see if it works, and they become more positive about it. I think the extra innings rule — people have been the most positive about that change. I think it’s exciting. It’s got a whole layer of strategy. I think the players are in favor of it and I do think it has a chance whether it’s next year or after the CBA negotiations to become part of the game.”
“Less than nine innings, I think that’s a tougher one. I really do. We played a ton of doubleheaders this year because of the rescheduling issue. We just couldn’t put players together for that long a period of time during the day. I’m just not sure if that one has legs or not.”
Reading between the lines: 12-14 expanded playoffs is likely. So are the DH in the NL and starting a runner on second in extra innings. Shorter doubleheaders, which reduce commercial inventory for MLB rightsholders, don’t sound like they’ll be permanent.
I kinda liked the short doubleheaders, but understand why they’re not so eager to jump into those for the future.