The Cincinnati Reds are going to have a season. Get excited. The Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball have agreed to show up on July 1st for “spring training 2.0” and play a 60-game schedule according to Bob Nightengale.
#MLB and the #MLBPA continue to exchange ideas with the health and safety protocols. There are no major snags. The union already informed MLB that it plans to play, and be in spring training camps by July 1 with a 60-game season starting July 24-26 weekend.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 23, 2020
This isn’t quite the time frame that was originally planned for, with the initial hope to be getting things going for the regular season by July 4th. Three weeks late, but it’s happening.
There’s been plenty of rumors and speculation on what rules would be implemented into the 2020 season. We’ve heard about extra-innings beginning with a runner on second base – a rule that’s been in place in the minor leagues for several seasons now. We’ve also heard about the designated hitter being in both leagues and pitchers being allowed to carry a wet rag to the mound with them since they can’t lick their fingers before going to the ball in order to better their grip. And as of now, it’s still uncertain exactly how the schedule is going to be set. All of that stuff is going to come out in short order.
For now we know this much: The players and the owners are going to do what they can in order to play baseball games starting in about one month. Players are going to be arriving in their home cities a week from today (or sooner) to begin spring training 2.0. Exactly how that’s going to work isn’t entirely known, either. One team, the Phillies, are expecting to actually hold their workouts at two different places – one in Philadelphia and the other at their Triple-A site just down the road in Lehigh Valley (70 minutes from Citizens Bank Park) according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia as a way to split up the team and hopefully keep the spread of COVID-19 down.
All teams were told to find a place within 100 miles of their home site for the taxi squad to practice once the season begins. The Cincinnati Reds have not made any announcement of where they would hold that, though as I wrote recently, Dayton’s Day Air Ballpark where the Dayton Dragons play may be the most ideal place given it’s location and existing infrastructure for development. Other options could be Louisville Slugger Field where the Triple-A Louisville Bats play, as well as options like the Urban Youth Academy in Cincinnati that has multiple fields or perhaps the ballpark used by the Florence Y’alls about 15 minutes south of Great American Ballpark if it were going to be available.
Now the most important question: Given the weirdness of this season, no fans being allowed in the stadium – will the Cincinnati Reds still be given the “home opener”?
Update at 9:20pm ET
Everything has been agreed to and the above article has been updated to reflect that the previously mentioned “health and safety” issue that was remaining has been agreed to.
Update at 9:35pm ET
Major League Baseball has released the following statement:
Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. announced today that Major League Baseball anticipates beginning its 2020 regular season approximately one month from today, on July 23rd or July 24th.
The announcement follows confirmation today that the MLB Players Association has accepted the health and safety protocols that will guide MLB’s return to play and that players will be able to report for training by July 1st. The health and safety of players and employees will remain MLB’s foremost priorities in its return to play. MLB is working with a variety of public health experts, infectious disease specialists and technology providers on a comprehensive approach that aims to facilitate a safe return.
MLB has submitted a 60-game regular season schedule for review by the Players Association. The proposed schedule will largely feature divisional play, with the remaining portion of each Club’s games against their opposite league’s corresponding geographical division _(i.e., East vs. East, Central vs. Central and West vs. West)_, in order to mitigate travel. The vast majority of Major League Clubs are expected to conduct training at the ballparks in their primary home cities.
Commissioner Manfred said: “Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon. We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with Baseball again soon.”