As sports fans wait for a return to a somewhat normal sports season, Major League Baseball and the players association have reached a deal that would allow players to return to the field. Unfortunately for fans, this means they will likely have to watch from the comfort of their own homes instead of in stadiums. Most teams will still be allowed to play games in their home stadiums but due to regulations that vary from state to state, that will likely change for some teams. Location is the least of the worries right now for fans since one of the rules from the league is that players and personnel not involved in the game will be sitting at least six feet apart in the stands.
One issue that will be in the back of everyone’s minds is the safety of players and fans. One player, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, threatened to sit out because his salary doesn’t make it worth it to play during a pandemic. Following the deal, which would’ve given players fullly prorated salaries, Snell reported to training camp and apologized for his previous statement. Fans will likely not be allowed in stadiums, although Governor Greg Abbott says he’d like to have a capacity of 25% at outdoor sporting events once they begin in Texas again. This will also require approval by MLB and any other leagues.
Another safety plan is having players sit in the stands instead of the dugout to maintain social distancing. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty said players were not fans of this idea but it has been agreed upon. Some players like Mike Leake, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond (though his reasoning isn’t entirely related to the pandemic) will be sitting out this season.
Players vs. Owners
The week of Memorial Day and the first week of June featured tense negotiations between the MLBPA and the owners. Owners proposed massive pay cuts for stars like Mike Trout and Gerritt Cole in upwards of 75%-80%. While players would have been fine with pay cuts and deferred salaries into future years, the owners were not open to the idea. Another issue was the length of the schedule. What started off as an 82 game season proposed by the owners shrunk down to around 50 games this year before the most recent proposal of 60 games in 70 days. The players proposed a 114 game season that would have started on June 30, lasting until the late-middle of October, with playoffs happening in November and into December.
After failed negotiations, Commissioner Rob Manfred mandated a 60 game season with prorated salaries, the designated hitter appearing in the national league, where pitchers normally hit, and runners starting on second base in extra innings. Although fans are excited for the sport to return and for games to be in home cities, the league could relocate teams if a team’s home city turns into a hotspot. Teams like the Toronto Blue Jays are making plans to play elsewhere since Toronto is a hot spot and the team’s spring training facility is in Florida, where the entire state is facing a spike in cases.
Even though there are doubts about the season being completed, fans and players alike are looking forward to July 23 when the first pitch of the regular season is thrown. The return of baseball will signify a return to normalcy right before other sports begin to start up again and give the world something to look forward to watching—other than the news.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.