Almost three months after the season was supposed to start, Major League Baseball announced that the season will officially begin on July 23 and consist of 60 games. The announcement comes just eight days after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he was “not confident” that a season was going to happen this year. Manfred’s doubt came from the ongoing negotiations and turmoil between MLB owners and the MLB Players Association.
It was as recently as last week that MLPA Executive director Tony Clark wrote on behalf of the players, explaining how they felt about the whole situation.
“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would ‘100 percent’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season. Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close.’ This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning. This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign,” said Clark. (CBS SPORTS)
The disagreements regarded the salaries players would be making when the season started. From the player’s standpoint, they felt that it was fair to get the full payment for the number of games that were to be played. On the other hand, the owners and Manfred wanted the players to take on reduced salaries. Due to this, multiple proposals were sent — and rejected — by both sides.
On July 13, Tony Clark made a statement to the league and ended it saying, “tell us when and where.” (Twitter) Clark was basically empathizing with the decision of the season being up to the owners because the players were all in; they just wanted to be treated fairly.
Fast forward to June 23, and now that agreement is in place for the season to start. The details of the season have now been released: starting July 1, players are to be in their respective home cities to start spring training, which is expected to last around three weeks. In terms of health protocols, the games will look a lot different than they did pre-COVID. Players not participating in the game will no longer be in the dugout. Instead, the players will be required to sit in the stands at least six feet apart from each other.
In terms of celebrations, high-fives, fist bumps and hugs will not be tolerated. This is good news for Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, as he will no longer have to worry about teammates ripping his shirt off after hitting a walk-off home run after it was reported that underneath Altuves’ jersey was a buzzer telling him pitch information. Also, gum chewing, tobacco chewing or chewing of tobacco seeds will no longer be allowed to occur during a game.
Players also will have to have their temperature taken multiple times a day and undergo COVID-19 tests multiple times per week. This information was reported on ESPN. In terms of changes made to the game, every team now will have a designated hitter, meaning pitchers in the National League will no longer be required to hit. According to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, MLB plans to use the Minor League rule of having a runner on second to begin each extra inning of a game. This is an effort to speed up the conclusion of extra-inning games, since the spring will be short, the schedule will be tight and there will be a desire to avoid elongated games. (Twitter)