U.S. baseball was at a standstill due to the coronavirus that came in and hit MLB on the head before March’s Opening Day. Everyone has been in a “wait-and-see” mode since then until a determination can be made on when games could be resumed.
When the league began to suffer economic loss, team owners grew more agitated and started making wild statements as the game returned, such as players taking a smaller pay cut, while the billionaire owners received more perks. That started a rift which threatened to force the entire season to be cancelled, but progress is now being made – slowly. If things go well, within only a few short weeks, MLB could see a return to spring training.
MLB owners and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) are actively working out how best to make a diamond return. One proposal focuses on the health aspect of a games resumption while another focuses on how to overcome the economic hardship that COVID-19 has caused. The former has already been sent to the union by owners and management, which yesterday provided its answer. The latter was only handed over yesterday, and will probably not be known until early next week when the players take on the suggestions.
Among the options included in the 67-page health proposal were “frequent” player testing, a ban on the use of showers and hydrotherapy equipment, and getting into the ballparks in uniform. Players did not respond well to most recommendations, failing to wear their jerseys in the parks and baulking at the fact that they should not use the showers or hydrotherapy facilities. They want players to be tested more often, instead of “frequent” testing. The owners and managers will now have to look at the input from the union and come up with a counter proposal.
When it happens, leaders of the teams and players will be mulling about the economic plan. Owners have sought to argue that if players will not take more salary cuts, they will risk as much as $4 billion, an argument that players will not consider. We claim the owners exaggerate the possible damages to justify failing to compensate the team, and argue that the owners are in a greater financial condition to suffer the loss.
Details of the economic proposal have not yet been released, so it is difficult to know what’s going to happen next. Baseball players want to get back on the field but not if they’re going to see them get the stick’s short end. If owners can irrefutably show how they’re going to receive the economic impact they’ve stated, then players might be willing to make an agreeable deal. Otherwise, next year, professional baseball would most likely not happen.
The owners of MLB’s under the pressure as they would like to start making money as soon as possible and want Spring Training 2.0 to start on July 1 at the latest by June 10 leading to a regular-season start. However, if that timetable is to be met, a deal must be reached by June 3. That means the owners will basically have one week to make peace with the union once they receive the answers to the economic proposal. The good news is, if all goes well, baseball fans could see some live action in just a couple of weeks.