For what has felt like months now, we have seemingly been hearing an entirely new proposal almost every week about how the 2020 Major League Baseball season may ultimately be structured.
Most plans revolve around a shortened season. Some are limited to states in warmer climates. Others have recommended the use of stadiums with roofs, which might conceivably limit the chances of rainouts.
Indeed, outlooks on the COVID-19 pandemic sometimes change daily, causing bursts of optimism one day and spurts of pessimism the next. Consequently, the brain trust inside the MLB front offices are spinning their wheels based on those reactions.
In the big news of the weekend was a 67-page document drafted by the MLB outlining some of the prospective protocols for all of those involved with baseball, if a season eventually takes place. At the moment, it covers testing, travel, in-stadium adjustments, on-field changes and a wide variety of other issues.
Jeff Passan of ESPN on Saturday pointed specifically to some of the on-field criteria, stating that “high-fives, fist bumps and hugs would be prohibited, as would spitting, tobacco use and chewing sunflower seeds. Fielders would be encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner between pitches. First- and third-base coaches are not to approach baserunners or umpires, and players should not socialize with opponents.”
However, while all these precise plans seem fine and dandy in theory, the biggest problem standing in the way of a season actually happening might be the fact that the league and the players are still far away from agreeing on one thing that has fueled disagreements between the two sides for decades—money.
In her column on Friday, Andy took a look at several different perspectives brought on by the dispute. The optimists, like MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, seem to think an agreement will quickly be reached. The pessimists, like many armchair fans who have been patiently waiting since the end of March, believe that there will be no baseball at all this year.
Coupled with the idea that some states have already lifted their stay-at-home orders, while others—like Los Angeles County—have extended theirs indefinitely, some speculation suggests that the target dates (July 4 weekend for Opening Day) projected by the MLB might not even be realistic.
Already, some sports pundits have shifted their thoughts to how the virus might affect the upcoming National Football League schedule.
Whatever the case may be, we’re no closer now to knowing if there will be a season than when the MLB suspended spring training activities back on March 12.
Stay tuned for new developments as they happen.