The state of baseball has never been more in flux.
The players on the field are more talented than ever before, but increased velocity from pitchers has led to record strikeout totals and low batting averages. There is new generation of exciting young stars emerging, but with every bat flip comes another conversation about whether it violates the unwritten rules.
Major League Baseball is exploring new rules that could help solve its pace-of-play issues but is also balancing ways to appeal to traditionalists hesitant to embrace change. Meanwhile, labor issues loom that could threaten to put a stop to any potential progress.
As MLB faces these challenges, we are embarking on a season-long look exploration of the storylines that will determine how the game looks in 2021 and far beyond.
Are games too long? How can baseball maximize its new stars? We dig into the topics that will shape the game far beyond 2021. The State of Baseball »
One sentence from baseball's highest-paid pitcher brought MLB's sticky stuff issue front and center. Here's how it got so widespread -- and if it can be cleaned up.Jeff Passan (ESPN+) »
It seems so simple: Run the bases. You learn these things as a child? Or do you? "Baserunning is terrible today," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. It's a real problem in Major League Baseball -- and it's only getting worse. Tim Kurkjian »
Pitchers are chasing K's. Hitters are OK striking out. So what's the big deal? It's destroying the sport. Tim Kurkjian »
From discrimination to harassment, firsthand accounts from women working in front offices illustrate deep issues in the league. Joon Lee »
Seemingly overnight, bat flips and flair have gone from baseball taboos to big league marketing material. How did that happen? Joon Lee »
They're hilarious. They're social media favorites. They're pushing the envelope of what baseball can be in 2021 and beyond. Alden Gonzalez (ESPN+) »
As a former player with an Ivy League degree, Doug Glanville checks all the boxes. But as a Black father in 2021, he's not comfortable taking a job in the dugout. Doug Glanville »
MLB's new dead ball era: We crunch the numbers to find out if the new ball is helping or hurting. Bradford Doolittle (ESPN+) »