There has been a lot of back and forth in the past several days regarding the potential resumption of the 2020 season. Much of it has been about labor relations, negotiations over money, health protections, and the strategic posture of the proposals and responses in play.
Let’s cut through the arguing for a moment, however, and be clear about where, exactly, things stand.
Yesterday the owners ratified Major League Baseball’s proposal — again, just a proposal — about how to resume the 2020 season. Here are the major details of the proposal:
- A mid-June “spring training” and early-July Opening Day;
- An 82-game schedule instead of the standard 162;
- Games would only be played against divisional and regional opponents. For example, AL East teams would play AL East and NL East teams only, etc.;
- Games would be played in home stadiums, without fans initially, where allowed. It is unclear where teams who are situated in states — or countries, in the case of the Blue Jays — where the resumption of sports would not be permitted will play, but at least some teams would likely have to relocate to neutral sites temporarily;
- There would be designated hitters in ALL games;
- Rosters would be expanded from 26 to as many as 30 active players with a 20-man taxi squad of minor league players and prospects staying fresh given that minor leagues are unlikely to be in operation any time soon;
- The postseason would be expanded from five teams per league to seven teams, with an additional postseason round added;
- Owners and players would receive a 50-50 split of revenue from the 2020 season.
The details about medical procedures, protections, COVID-19 testing, quarantining, and what to do if players or team personnel test positive for COVID-19 are not publicly known. They are, obviously however, extremely important.
Today the proposal is expected to be formally communicated to the MLB Players Association which has to ratify it before anything can happen.
Outside of MLB and the MLBPA, there is broad discussion about whether it makes medical sense for professional sports to resume at all. Outside of the medical field, there is likely going to be pressure for MLB to begin its season for political and symbolic purposes.
The union and the league will now negotiate over what happens. While it has been cast as a matter of the players either agreeing to start the season or deciding not to, both sides have to agree.