Back in late March the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball came to an agreement on a whole lot of things with regards to the shut down of baseball, as well as the restart of baseball. One of those things was that the Players Association would have to agree on terms to restart spring training and the season.

Despite rumors floating around the internet earlier this week about a date for the start of “spring training” and a start date for games, Major League Baseball has not yet even sent a formal proposal for such things to the Major League Baseball Players Association. That pretty much squashes the rumors since the players have a say in whether or not that gets going, and they haven’t even been presented with a plan yet.

But, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN – a plan, perhaps not specifically the one that was rumored, is expected to be sent over within the next week for the MLBPA to look at. That is just one step in a process. And there’s a lot of things that need to happen once it’s received.

The first thing that needs to happen is that the MLBPA goes over the plan and decides whether the terms make sense. The plan will then be explained to the team representatives of the players association, who will take that information to the rest of the team who will discuss what they like/dislike about the plan. And then the player representatives take the feedback to Tony Clark and the brass at the players association who can either make a counter offer to MLB if they want changes made, or they can then set out to vote on the plan as it stands.

All of that, too, ignores the fact that the MLBPA believes that they already have an agreement on pay for the 2020 season if it resumes, while MLB believes that no agreement is in place for that. The hang up is that back in March when the two sides agreed on pay – MLB claims they agreed on future pay if a season restarted with fans in the stands, while the MLBPA claims the agreement was for if a season restarted. MLB would like to negotiate pay cuts beyond just a pro-rated for games played salary. This could be a very big sticking point between the two sides in negotiations for any plan that’s presented.

And of course, all of that ignores the situation of what’s going on in the United States right now. Each state, and even some cities within those states, are following their own plans. The current plan is to have teams play in their home ballparks. But as things sit right now, that’s not allowed in more than a few places that have Major League Baseball teams. That could change by the time teams are hoping to get games started – it sounds like July – but putting a plan in motion with the hopes that it changes seems like a poorly thought out idea.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, recently said that if the NHL were to restart that as things stand right now, anyone entering the country would be expected to self quarantine for 14 days. How does that work for the Toronto Blue Jays and teams that are expected to play in Toronto if things don’t change? What’s the plan for if a state doesn’t go along with “the plan” for opening up?

Say that California, New York, or Ohio – states with multiple teams – say that they aren’t ready to have 150+ people at a stadium for game day operations when the season is set to start, what happens then? MLB can try to find an alternative site, but that brings a whole host of other problems with it. First is that the players would have voted yet on a plan that allowed them to live in their host cities where they could be with the family, and around more of their family/friends/whatever. Second is that it seems like this current plan is built around limiting travel with only play within the new divisions. That would mean you couldn’t take, say, the Ohio teams and just send them to Goodyear to play their home games. That plan would render the entire “MLB Central Division” pointless.

There are still countless hurdles and issues that need to be worked out. It seems that Major League Baseball wants to get things going. But it also seems that there’s a ton of hope and faith involved in their plans.

15 Responses

  1. Jim Walker

    Believe they have a plan when they share it.

  2. Doug Gray

    And they all face the same exact issues, Sliotar. I just don’t cover those things so I don’t write about them.

    • Doug Gray

      Yes, pretty much – they are hoping that no one gets sick and it doesn’t spread among the crews. But also, they are in a different boat than the other leagues as all of their events are taking place in two cities within the same state. There’s next to no travel at all involved. And they’ve also noted that they aren’t doing races at other sites and states because they are avoiding air travel and hotel accommodations for those involved with the events.

  3. Jim Walker

    Maybe the question we should be asking is why they need another week to get a plan to the players association.

    Why hasn’t there been a formal working group of all the stakeholders all along forming plans and alternatives?

    When the plan obviously still isn’t ready to see the light of day, why not form that working group now and throw them the partial draft as a baseline starting point?

    And while they are at it, get the appropriate sort of scientists/ experts and even some public officials involved.

    That way when they have a plan, a real plan, it has a much better chance of quickly coming to fruition and execution, events permitting rather that running afoul of the interests and capabilities of another involved entity down the line.

  4. renbutler

    I applaud MLB for being forward looking, assuming they are flexible and realistic.

    If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But if you wait until every last piece is in place before making a plan, it’s too late.

    MLB is doing this right, contrary to the editorializing in what could have (should have?) been a hard news piece, with a separate editorial.

    • Doug Gray

      No issue at all with MLB discussing plans. I’ve said more than a few times that they should be discussing plans and it would be insane not to be doing so.

    • Jim Walker

      The hard news is they don’t have even a completed draft plan to forward to the players’ association for review. Everything else is speculation at this point which means it is someone’s opinion. based on the bread crumbs that are leaked to attempt to help shape the eventual plan..

  5. RedNat

    3 things have been fairly consistent during this whole pandemic regarding sports.

    1. players are not that interested in playing in empty stadiums, starting with Lebron James comments in March
    2. Dr. Fauci and the CDC/NIH have said fans will not be able to return to stadiums until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed or there is a very safe and effective therapeutic agent available
    3. players are not interested in playing in designated cities/ bubbles because that would take away family time.

    owners/ shareholders can plan and plan all they want but these 3 obstacles are going to be hard to overcome.

    I am hoping though point 1 and 3 will start to change as the young players begin to feel financial pressure to get back on the field.

  6. Tom Mitsoff

    Browsing through the ESPN article Doug linked to above, it becomes apparent that there may be some players who do not want to take the chance of catching the virus by playing in games at this time. It will be very, very interesting to see how the league and the teams respond to players with that concern. One would almost have to think that they would not be paid for any and all games for which they fail to appear.

    I don’t think players would be disciplined for such a stance, because it is understandable. But it would not be fair to pay players who opt to stay home while others are showing up and, in effect, taking the risk.

    • RedNat

      this to me has been the biggest shock of the pandemic Tom. the players “safety first” attitude. the chances of these healthy young players getting a severe case of this virus is so low. the chance of dying is even lower.

      Pete Rose quote “I would walk through hell in a fire suit to play baseball” definitely does not apply to this generation of players. It is somewhat disheartening to me but not that surprising given the enormous salaries they make. It also proves to me that the passion and love for the game from the players is on life support or dead already

      • Doug Gray

        Or it proves that their love of their families health is more important than baseball. As it should be. This isn’t just about the players. It’s about their families – some of whom may not be at the same level of “safe” as they are.

      • Jim Walker

        Don’t overlook the “hidden” issues that are starting to show up in apparently asymptomatic folks who have tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Acton, the Ohio Director of Health mentioned these in some detail at today’s briefing.

        There are people are suffering all sorts of systemic damage apparently arising from the virus. Heart, lungs, kidneys, neurological issues to list a few; name it and there seem to be instances of it.

        Hopefully these will be temporary; and, younger healthy people will eventually recover fully or not be seriously impaired for life. However the point is that right now we just don’t know that.

      • Doug Gray

        You do understand that it’s insanely unreasonable to ask anyone to live in complete isolation for 6 weeks for purely entertainment value, right? And while you can argue the players make plenty of to make that sacrifice, you know who doesn’t? Literally everyone else required to make that game happen. The security guard, the clubhouse attendant, the grounds crew guys, the media relations people, the people who make the tv and radio broadcast possible, and probably another 2-3 dozen people I’m not thinking of right now.

      • Jim Walker

        What has happened at the White House and with VP Pence’s staff the last 2 days severely puts the viability of a virtual biodome scenario into doubt.

        They’ve got fewer people to manage and no doubt stricter protocols than MLB could maintain over the pool of players and others needed to put on and televise the games; yet the virus got thru.

        Only question now is where these 2 (identified so far) persons shedding virus inside the physical perimeter or in the presence of other staffers before they tested positive. Passage of time is going to tell us.

  7. Jim Walker

    Gov DeWine said at today’s briefing he is optimistic MLB baseball will be played in Ohio this summer.

    The gist and inference of many of his remarks would seem to indicate it will almost certainly be played with no or at best extremely diminished numbers of fans in the stands.