Major League Baseball’s owners have approved a plan that is a hail mary to salvage the 2020 season, and that proposal will be presented to players on Tuesday. It basically cuts the season in half, with the start happening in July—no games would be played with fans.
Via that ESPN article, here’s what the season would look like:
An expansion of playoff teams from 10 to 14
An 82-game season
The use of home stadiums in areas that have local and state government approval
A so-called spring training 2.0 that begins in June, with a season set for early July
A universal designated hitter
Geographical schedules, in which teams play only in-division opponents and interleague opponents in a similar area (i.e., American League Central teams play AL Central and National League Central teams.)
A 30-man roster with a taxi squad that would have upward of 50 players available
I assume the expanded playoff format is just an effort to recoup some money, but that’ll probably be the least of the issues up for negotiation here, as Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle outlined on Twitter.
Just setting aside the certain disagreements between players and management about compensation, there is the matter of testing logistics. How many are necessary, how often must they be done, and can anyone really justify setting aside thousands of kits for testing athletes to get moving on an irrelevant activity while tests remain scarce in too many places at such an essential time in this country?
Anyway, I hope there is a realistic way back for baseball, which is already inclined toward social distancing—at least before the defensive shift craze took over, am I right. The problem is obviously that you stack risk on top of risk to run a single game, because you need umpires, coaches, trainers, television crew, other team officials, etc., to run a game even without fans. How to make that work without creating another exponential problem—that’s the tough part.