We are not in the home stretch yet, but we can at least see the finish line in terms of getting baseball back in our lives again.
The COVID-19 outbreak has put vast swaths of our ways of life on hold as the world looks for ways to stop this outbreak from claiming more lives than is necessary. This has not been a problem unique to sports obviously, but the logistics of finding a way to play organized sports has been a monumental challenge to say the least. We have been hearing rumblings about division realignments and hubs, etc. etc for a while and now it looks like we have an official starting point in conversations between teams and players.
BREAKING: Major League Baseball owners OK a proposal that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans.— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) May 11, 2020
There is a lot to unpack here and all of this is subject to change based on negotiations with MLBPA on the details especially when it comes to how much players are going to be paid for the 2020 vs. how much they were guaranteed in previous negotiations.
The short version of the owners’ plan is as follows:
- The 2020 season would start around July 4th
- Teams would be playing in their home ballparks but there would not be fans in attendance
- The designated hitter would be instituted for the 2020 season in both leagues
- Spring training would resume in mid-June
- Each team would play around 82 regular season games and would be compromised solely of matchups against teams in their division as well as their league counterparts so AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central, etc.
- The postseason would include 14 teams instead of 10 by adding two more wild card spots in each league
- If approval cannot be obtained from local authorities to play in a team’s home ballparks, spring training and neutral sites will be considered
- The All-Star Game is likely to be called off altogether
- Players and teams will split revenues 50/50 according to some early reports, although what will become of the previous guarantees to the players as well as what will be considered revenue are open questions at this point.
Owners are set to meet to discuss the proposal tomorrow and should be getting in touch with the players’ association in the coming days. Players are going to have some strong feelings about further reductions in pay under this offer, so it probably is fair to say that there is still a ways to go before we can feel confident that players are actually going to take the field in 2020.