After the final proposal by Major League Baseball was rejected by the MLB Players’ Association, Commissioner Rob Manfred has mandated a 60-game season expected to start on the weekend of July 24-26 and ending on September 27.
The only remaining hurdle for the return of baseball is Tuesday’s 3pm vote for the MLBPA on whether players will report to preparatory camp on July 1 and if the healthy and safety protocols are sufficient.
On Monday afternoon, the executive board of the players’ union voted against accepting the proposal 33-5. As per the March 26 agreement, Manfred enforced his ability to finally set a season in motion.
In a statement issued following the vote, MLBPA and executive director Tony Clark reiterated an excitement to play a season in 2020.
Until the first pitch is thrown on Opening Day 2020 – in July, no less – it may still be hard to fully believe that baseball is back.
Manfred’s decision also comes on the heels of 40 players and staff members of several teams testing positive for COVID-19 in recent days, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. In response, MLB has closed all Spring Training facilities in Arizona and Florida, forcing teams to practice entirely in their home cities.
With the decline of MLB’s offer, several of the interesting alterations to the game bandied about during the recent weeks and months will not come to fruition.
Disappointing to many fans is the news at this time that the designated hitter in the National League and expanded playoffs will not happen in either of the next two years. Purists of America’s pastime may breathe a sigh of relief over this and the knowledge that jerseys will not grow rife with advertisements as had been previously discussed. At least, not yet.
With designated hitters earning over $10M annually, as per Spotrac, this financial boon for the players may have to wait and be negotiated when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021.
Regardless of these specifics from the March 26 agreement, sources have indicated that the healthy and safety protocols include the universal DH for 2020 due to brief ramp-up before the start of the season.
Players have also begun petitioning for extra inning games to start with a runner on second base, much like MiLB since 2018 and some international contests. The union also considered the possibility of tie games as well as free substitutions, or the ability for a player to re-enter a game.
Still a part of the MLB and MLBPA arrangement is the allowance for high-risk players such as Colorado’s David Dahl to opt out of a 2020 season due to the concerns of COVID-19 and still receive their salary or service time.
Recently, it was discussed for players to opt out if they live with anyone deemed high-risk, such as a pregnant spouse. Angels’ OF Mike Trout and Yankees’ RHP Gerrit Cole, two players with contracts north of $300M and wives due to give birth this summer, may not have the choice without a new agreement.
All of the public back-and-forth and uproar on social media has come down to this: we’re ultimately back to where we started on March 26.
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally get back our sport. Maybe.