For a quick moment on Monday, there appeared to be some progress towards making the 2020 Major League Baseball season a reality.
That is, until the players’ union had its say in the matter.
Initially, MLB owners agreed on a proposal that would be sent to the union for review on Tuesday. The plan saw players returning to spring training sometime in mid-June, with an eye on starting the regular season on July 4. In addition, included in the proposal was a plan to incorporate a designated hitter into the National League rules. The biggest part of the deal, though, was a prospective revenue sharing plan between the owners and the players.
Consequently, there was a backlash that came from the union even before it reviewed the official proposition.
The early feel from the union was that the revenue sharing plan resembled a salary cap a little too much, something the MLBPA has long fought against.
A seven-month players strike back in 1994-95 was spearheaded by a similar type of plan.
MLBPA President Tony Clark accused the league of “trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past.”
Seemingly, much attention over the past few months has been put on the structure of a season rather than the safety of the players. Owners agreed to the idea that games would be played without fans in the stands to begin the season, but no other concrete plans for safety of the players have been revealed.
Last week, we noted how baseball has resumed in other parts of the world, specifically in China and South Korea. The Chinese Professional Baseball League remains a clear success story, with no indication that play has interfered with efforts to protect the health and welfare of participants or the broader public.
In the CPBL, fans are already filing into the league’s stadiums to cheer on their favorite teams.
CPBL management has complied with recommendations by the Center for Disease Control with regards to fan attendance. Those recommendations include all ticket holders needing to provide their real name, fans practicing social distancing at games, fans being required to wear masks at games, and the league having temperature screening devices at the gates of the stadiums.
As mentioned previously, Taiwan and South Korea’s success surrounding the recommencement of their respective leagues has come after nearly “stomping out” the coronavirus completely. Indeed, there’s still a long way to go to seeing such progress in the States.
Nevertheless, while the matters with regards to health and safety in the MLB might be resolved with relative ease, the biggest obstacle right now remains the fact that the players appear unwilling to accept a salary cut based on recalculated 2020 team revenues.