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.