The MLB Players’ Association has submitted a response to MLB’s 67-page health and safety protocol proposal for a potential 2020 season, as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman first reported Thursday. The league is now expected to initiate discussions on a financial plan, per Sherman’s report:
https://t.co/yOJVpAihDa Union responded to MLB’s health/safety proposal today. MLB will send financial info to the PA tomorrow. That is the right order to follow. Why solving health/safety should be first and most beneficial to getting a deal.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) May 21, 2020
While the union declined to provide specifics of its response to the public, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reports that the response was wide-ranging:
MLBPA has delivered its response to MLB’s health protocols. Includes notes on:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) May 21, 2020
• Testing frequency
• Protocols for positive tests
• In-stadium medical personnel
• Protections for high-risk players and family
• Access to pre-, postgame therapies
• Sanitization protocols
In a way, it feels like the union is claiming in the same breath that this proposal is both too strong and too weak in regards to protecting players, coaches, other gameday personnel, and families from the COVID-19 outbreak. There have been talks about the players asking for daily testing rather than just the multiple times a week that were specified in the initial plan, and while Drellich doesn’t elaborate on what the “protocols for positive tests” would be, there have certainly been calls in some circles for the entire league to be shut down in the event of a positive test, rather than the affected individual simply being moved into isolation and forced to test negative multiple times before they can return. If that’s going to be the case, then it doesn’t feel like it makes much sense to attempt to try to play games this season — or at all until the virus is maybe eradicated one day. But if there’s daily testing, it doesn’t seem like there should be a need for such extensive quarantine procedures, so perhaps one topic could have an impact on another.
On the other hand, there seems to be somewhat of a desire for the extensive gameday safety protocols to be lessened. Sherman writes that the players were expected to ask for the ability to shower at the stadium after games and access to hydrotherapy pools, which would obviously increase the risk of the virus spreading, however small that risk may be. While we’re all probably being a bit overcautious in trying to avoid being infected right now, it feels harder to take the union’s concerns seriously when they’re asking for fewer safety protocols at the same time they’re asking for more. We’ll see what comes of the discussions between the league and the union, but obviously it’s crucial that the two sides make sure they get everything right on these issues if they want to follow the CPBL and KBO’s lead in getting back on the field this year.