Less than a week after saying he was “100 percent” sure there would be a 2020 season, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred walked back that guarantee in a Monday interview with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg during SportsCenter’s “The Return of Sports” special. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the news Monday:
BREAKING: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred tells @Espngreeny that he’s “not confident” there will be a 2020 baseball season. “Unfortunately," Manfred said, "I can’t tell you that I’m a 100% certain that’s gonna happen.”— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 15, 2020
News at @espn: https://t.co/h1I6Yh5R55
Despite Manfred’s guarantee, this news really isn’t that surprising — the ball was always in the players’ court, as they were the ones who would have to agree to health and safety measures in order to get back on the field. With the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin reporting that the owners will not agree to stage a 2020 season unless the players agree not to pursue legal action — a grievance, specifically — against the league, it now is starting to feel doubtful that the two sides will be able to come to any sort of agreement and play a shortened season this year.
If the league ultimately takes the entire year off, it could have potentially horrific consequences for both the sport and the people involved with it. There would obviously be fans who would lose interest and become frustrated with the continuing battle between the league and players’ association, countless team employees and affiliated workers (broadcasters, TV crew members, vendors, etc.) would likely be furloughed or laid off or have to search for new work, and the quality of the sport would surely take a major hit with so many players going a year without getting in a game.