As the seemingly endless dispute between commissioner Rob Manfred and the Players Association drones on, there was an interesting series of tweets from Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, who’s often good for a contrary opinion.
Here are two of them:
“Fans want baseball. The vast majority of players want baseball. Most owners want baseball. Seems like everyone is in agreement yet we have no agreement and no baseball. How?!”
“It’s absolute death for this industry to keep acting as it has been. Both sides. We’re driving the bus straight off a cliff. How is this good for anyone involved? Covid 19 already presented a lose lose lose situation and we’ve somehow found a way to make it worse. Incredible.
As expected, the players had voted against the proposal by Manfred. Now, the commissioner can decide on a schedule.
MLB released a statement on Monday night asking that the players tell them by 5 p.m. Tuesday if they’ll be ready to report to training camp by July 1. The players also must agree to the health and safety protocols.
Let’s look at some questions and possible answers on what could happen next.
What would the schedule look like? If it’s 60 games, which is what MLB has been proposing, then let’s guess that the Orioles would play each of their four American League East opponents 10 times, and the five National League East teams four times, with two-game home-and-home series.
Because there are five teams in each division, there will be an interleague game each day.
When would the season finally begin? MLB has said it wants the regular season to end on September 27, when the original 162-game schedule was to end.
If training camps open on July 1, there’s time to play 60 games, and play could begin the last weekend of July. That’s around when NFL training camps are scheduled to reopen, and the NBA is supposed to return.
All these dates are assuming the nation’s health permits it.
Where will teams train? The Orioles and most other teams will train at their home ballparks. Because of health reasons, Miami, Tampa Bay and Toronto might have to find other venues.
The Orioles are fortunate to have three affiliates — Aberdeen, Bowie and Frederick within an hour of Baltimore. Those parks could be used for the taxi squads as well as some minor leaguers.
If the Orioles decide that Camden Yards isn’t big enough for perhaps as many as 50 players, some could train elsewhere.
What will the rosters look like? There have been several scenarios thrown around, with 29- or 30-player rosters, a 29-player roster for the first month and a taxi squad of perhaps 20 players.
Still to be decided are roster machinations. Will there be adjustments to the 40-man roster since a number of players on the taxi squad aren’t on it?
How freely can players move between the taxi squad and the active roster? This year, pitchers could only be recalled after they spend 15 days in the minor leagues. Position players could be recalled after 10 days.
Rosters have been frozen since shortly after the pandemic forced a pause in play on March 12.
It will be fascinating to see if any players opt out for health reasons.
Are there any new rules? The designated hitter will be used in all games. Had the players agreed to MLB’s proposal, the DH would have been used universally in 2021 and likely forever.
Now, it’s to be discussed as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
What will the playoffs look like? The owners had proposed 16-team playoffs for this year and expanded playoffs for next year, too.
Since the owners’ proposal was rejected, the postseason field remains at 10 teams, as it has since 2012.
The expanded playoffs are a way to address one of the players’ concerns, tanking. If there are eight teams in each league in the postseason field, more teams will feel they have a chance to play in October, making for a more aggressive free-agent market.
Will we continue to see sparring between players and owners? Most assuredly. The CBA expires after the 2021 season, and this negotiation hasn’t helped the climate.
If there had been an uneventful negotiation, the 2020 season could have started next week. Instead, three weeks of play will be lost along with the opportunity to dominate a sports calendar that’s nearly empty.
By the time baseball returns, fans’ attention might be on the NFL and NBA.
The last time there was a labor dispute came in 1994 and 1995 before many of today’s players were born. Only one owner, the Chicago White Sox’s Jerry Reinsdorf, was active then.
As Bauer indicated in his tweet, the silly tussle during the pandemic has made the sport look small, and it will be interesting to see how many fans will watch games featuring empty stands and little atmosphere on television.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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