MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday, discussing the 2020 season. During the interview, Manfred admitted that “we weren’t going to play more than 60 games” in 2020.
The full quote:
I know some people have talked about longer seasons. The reality is we weren’t going to play more than 60 games no matter how the negotiations with the players went or any other factor. 60 games is the outside of the end goal given the realities of the times. I think this is the one thing that we come back to every single day. We’re trying to manage something that has proven to be unpredictable and unmanageable. I know it hasn’t looked particularly pretty in spots but having said that, if we can pull of this 60-game season, I think it was the best we were going to do for our fans given the course of the virus.
Patrick followed up, asking, “But even if the players accepted everything you offered, there was no way you would’ve gone to 80 games? It was still going to be 60?”
Manfred replied, “It’s the calendar, Dan. We’re playing 60 games in 63 days right now. I don’t see, given the reality of the health situation over the past few weeks, how we were going to get going any faster than the calendar we’re on now and no matter what the state of those negotiations were.”
Manfred went on to say that the goal was to finish the regular season no later than September 27 and begin the postseason “on its normal calendar” in early October. Experts the league spoke to projected a spike in coronavirus cases in the fall.
As always, Manfred’s words should be viewed through a particular lens in that he represents MLB team owners. The owners claimed that they would lose money on every game played without fans in attendance, games that otherwise would bring in ticket, concession, and merchandise revenues. They very staunchly rebuffed the players’ desire for a longer season, getting the MLB Players Association down from 110 games to 70 before the two sides broke off negotiations. Manfred is likely not being dishonest by saying that the pandemic was limiting the schedule, but it also is likely not the whole story.
Furthermore, if Manfred says that the schedule was never going to be longer than 60 games, did he fail to use the “best efforts to play as many games as possible” to play as many games as possible, per the March agreement? If the MLBPA decides to file a grievance, this may be one of Manfred’s quotes they latch onto.