Inside Minor League Baseball's experimental rules: Oversize bases, robot umps and moving the mound

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Minor League Baseball finally returns to ballparks across the country, with Tuesday marking the first games since 2019 after all of last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening Day will feature 55 contests across four levels, though not every team that took the field two years ago will be returning to the diamond in 2021.

Major League Baseball streamlined the minor leagues, contracting 40 teams in the process. All 30 MLB teams will now have four levels of affiliates: low-A, high-A, Double-A and Triple-A — plus a rookie level team housed at each spring training complex.

The post-pandemic restart will also look quite different on the field as baseball experiments with different rule changes at every level, as well as in the independent Atlantic League, as part of an ultimate goal of finding ways to improve the sport. Strikeouts are up, contact is down, games are longer than ever and MLB is aiming to do something about it.

Former Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox front-office exec Theo Epstein has been charged with overseeing the experiments for MLB. He will be analyzing the data and watching games closely.

“There’s a whole team at MLB that is thinking through how to

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