Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have created a proposal that they will be submitting to the players union that could potentially lead to a delayed baseball season that would begin around the Fourth of July, instead of June. The proposal comes as an obvious response to the coronavirus pandemic and indefinite cancellations of all major sporting events in the United States until this pandemic is over.
Spring training would likely start in early to mid-June if the proposal comes into fruition. However, MLB officials will need the stamp of approval from the players union before any decisions are made, and it’s expected that the union is gonna put up quite the fight to keep players home.
“If you do anything that resembles a cap, that smells like a cap, you’ve given too much. A salary cap has been a non-starter for the players as long as I’ve been in baseball. I think when MLB is proposing a revenue split, it is with the full knowledge that the players’ union will automatically reject that,” said David Samson, former president of the Expos and Marlins.
The proposal claims that each player would play about 82 regular-season games against opponents within their own division. Postseason games would expand out from 10 clubs to 14 by “doubling wild cards in each league to four.” Teams are likely going to want to play at their regular-season ballparks, however, if MLB can’t get proper government approval to have home games, teams will have to switch to either spring training stadiums or any other neutral meeting sites.
“We’ll see where we will be in July, California is the home of five MLB clubs and [they’ve all] talked with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. We certainly look forward to Major League Baseball and all sports resuming. But again, the question is when and that will be determined on the basis of public health and public safety and the spread of this virus,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Players, however, aren’t so convinced that we’ll be returning to a life of normalcy anytime soon, and based off what we’ve heard before in terms of professional athlete protections, most MLB players want what everyone wants; health protections for all players, families, staff, and employees involved. The logistics of ensuring everyone is consistently healthy while also having access to proper testing hasn’t even been mastered in America in general yet.
Teams will likely propose to have access to part of their 2020 salaries based on a split between what they would be making during regular and postseason. The proposal will also cover the concept of fans being able to return to ballparks at some point, which could involve inviting a few spectators at first and slowly increasing the number of bodies in the stands.
Most teams have already been given the chance to begin spring-training on their own, which many players have done, as opposed to travelling to be with their team. In March, the MLB called for each player to receive only a portion of their salary amid the pandemic. Players believe this specific agreement should still be followed as the basis for all future economic decisions involving MLB employees and players.
Again, the biggest concern is following proper health and safety guidelines and keeping everyone healthy while enduring a potential new baseball season. For now, only time will tell how all professional sports, along with the rest of the world, will be able to return to a life of normalcy.