Despite the cumbersome process to get there and the less-than-satisfactory situation, it appears that Baltimore Orioles baseball might be on the verge of coming back. Last night MLB released the following statement:
“Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development.
“The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new Postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits including:
1) The universal DH for two years
2) A guaranteed $25 million in playoff pools in 2020
3) $33 million in forgiven salary advances that would increase the take home pay of 61% of Major League players
4) Overall earnings for players of 104 percent of prorated salary
5) Over the last two days, MLB agreed to remove expanded Postseason in 2021 in order to address player concerns
“In view of this rejection, the MLB Clubs have unanimously voted to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th Agreement. The provisions listed above will not be operative.
“In order to produce a schedule with a specific number of games, we are asking that the Players Association provide to us by 5:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow with two pieces of information. The first is whether players will be able to report to camp within seven days (by July 1st). The second is whether the Players Association will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.”Courtesy of mlb.com
In short, the agreement between the player’s association and the league on March 26th gives the commissioner the right to effective impose the season. It’s believed that Commissioner Manfred will impose a season of approximately 60 games (as opposed to the previous number of 50), and that it could begin over the weekend of July 24-26th. Spring training 2.0 would in theory begin July 1st.
This is all far from ideal. Obviously baseball deciding to have labor strife in the middle of a global pandemic rubs a lot of people the wrong way – including me. With people out of work and countless other sick and suffering (or deceased), it really hasn’t been a great look for the league. And now on top of that we’re going to see a 60-game season.
Someone asked me last week if I thought there should be an asterisk by this year in terms of whomever wins the World Series. Should they be considered legitimate champions and so forth? And my answer is that there should be no asterisk, and yes they’ll be legitimate champions. Everyone’s playing by the same rules and parameters. As long as that’s the case, whomever wins this year should be considered legit.
The presumption is that home parks will be used for this year, although MLB has reportedly revisited the bubble idea as well given recent Coronavirus spikes in various parts of the country. However those spikes include both Florida and Arizona – the two places that were being considered to host the bubbles.
What’s also unclear is whether fans will be admitted. It wouldn’t shock me to see some teams allow fans and implement some sort of system whereby fans can social distance themselves. But that remains to be seen, and probably has a lot more to do with each individual area than it does the league.
But one way or the other, for better or for worse, it appears that baseball is on it’s way to returning in some form. More as we hear it.