Today is the day: Major League Baseball is presenting a return plan to the players’ union.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan outlines the provisions in this proposal, including a four-team increase to the 2020 postseason. The season would last 82 games, stadiums with local and state approval would house games, and action would begin in July.
If this happens, we are about eight weeks from first pitch.
The designated hitter would be used for AL and NL teams alike. Rosters would be bumped up to 30, and a pool of 50 players could be available at any given time. The proposal includes a “geographical schedule” where the Rockies would play only against teams in the NL and AL West.
This plan is largely dependent on what the MLBPA says in return, of course; a “50-50 revenue split” is reportedly what the owners are presenting.
While this proposal serves as motivating news to cure our baseball deprivation, there still remains health concerns that could further disrupt any proposal. Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle took to Twitter on Monday, addressing issues like how tests would be obtained, what would happen if someone contracted the virus, and certain healthcare provisions for players.
Doolittle’s wife, Eireann Dolan, was part of a COVID-19 feature story on HBO’s Real Sports. She has a chronic lung condition, and on March 12, urged baseball fans to stop attending games. Doolittle was called upon to pitch that day.
In mid-April, Clayton Kershaw addressed concerns about a biosphere-type restart at spring training stadiums. “You just lose the product on the field because guys aren’t in their natural element.” Doolittle couldn’t have felt in his natural element on March 12.
Fast-forward to today: the MLBPA approval of this new proposal could be largely dependent on how natural the players can feel.
But if the threat of no baseball persists, how natural will it need to be?
David Dahl had his spleen removed five years ago, and he can be more susceptible to infections. It suggests that ‘natural element’ of baseball could easily vary for each player, and the MLBPA has plenty to consider when reviewing today’s proposal.
We know one uniform Nolan Arenado won’t be wearing next year: USA’s red, white and blue in the World Baseball Classic.
The 2021 event was “set to expand to a record 20 teams” and was going to be held in Japan, Taiwan and the United States. With the Olympics pushed back to 2021, international competition had already been deemed a risk for the coming months.
MLB and the MLBPA approve the specifics of the WBC in their collective bargaining agreements, and the negotiation specifics are why it could take until 2023 for the WBC to return.
Arenado and Jake McGee were the two Rockies that played on the 2017 USA squad.