With the Colorado Rockies and other Major League Baseball teams reporting to spring training beginning next week, we’re starting to learn more and more about what the 2021 season will encompass, at least to begin the year.
On Monday, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached agreements on what health and safety protocols will look like for the 2021 campaign, as well as what rules will be instituted for the season. Those rules include some returning from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, including seven-inning doubleheaders and starting extra innings with a runner on second base.
One rule that will not return in 2021, however, is the designated hitter in the National League. We’ve already projected what the Colorado lineup could look like to open the season without Nolan Arenado at third base and a DH in the lineup. So yes, Rockies fans, it’s time to see if starting pitcher German Marquez can win the Silver Slugger Award again.
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There is also news from The Athletic (subscription required) that changes are being made to the baseball for the 2021 season in an attempt to reduce the rising number of home runs that MLB has seen over the last few years. Ken Rosenthal states in the article, however, that the change will be small and could result in a ball traveling one or two feet less than it did in previous years.
The Rockies are scheduled to open the season at home on April 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and we’re getting a glimpse of what games will look like in Denver to at least start the season. After Colorado governor Jared Polis said last week that he was “optimistic” that fans would be allowed inside Coors Field for Opening Day, long-time season-ticket holder Shannon Hurd shared on Twitter the information she received from the Rockies regarding what tickets and attendance would look like for games at 20th and Blake.
Included in the snippet shared by Hurd are the facts that fans will be required to wear a mask when seated (except for when eating and drinking), seats will be sold in “pods” of two to four tickets to ensure physical distancing and limited contact with those outside of your “pod,” and physical distancing will be enforced throughout Coors Field, including entrances, concession areas, and concourses.
In conversations, Hurd told me that the new rules would certainly be an adjustment, considering much of the social aspect of attending a baseball game would likely be limited to start the season.
“So much of my enjoyment going to the ballpark in person is about tradition – walking laps around the stadium with my dad, catching up with my Coors Field family who sits nearby, eating our traditional ballpark meals, having friends randomly stop by my seats to say hi or else going to visit them at their seats,” Hurd said. “It sounds like every one of those elements might be in jeopardy with these new distancing rules.”
She also mentioned that she expected the rules to soften and change as the season went along and vaccinations became more common.
While the 2020 season was unlike anything the vast majority of Americans had seen in their lifetime, 2021 is shaping up to be unusual as well. Rockies fans can expect tweaks in protocols as the 162-game season goes along and we’ll keep you updated with the latest changes.