The owners propose, the virus disposes

From the Washington Post:

While MLB and the union haggle over the terms of the season and the money each side receives, the virus ultimately will decide how much — or whether — baseball will be played in 2020.


MLB is left to decide whether it wants to impose a mini-season, leaving itself open to a potential $1 billion grievance the union would almost certainly file, or use the spread of the virus across the game’s ranks as a reason to punt on 2020 entirely.

At the same time, the players have the choice between accepting MLB’s latest proposal for a 60-game season — which would come with an expanded postseason and an agreement to waive potential grievances — or rejecting the proposal and accepting whatever imposed schedule, probably in the 50-game range, MLB comes up with.

For the first time I am not hopeful that there’ll be any season worth thinking about. Fifty games is ridiculously short, as is anything short of 81, as far as I’m concerned. A fifty game season would require the mother of all asterisks in the record books. But trying to squeeze 81 games plus playoffs by the end of October is impossible, particularly when you have the most visible and trusted public health doctor in the country suggesting MLB really should wrap up the year by the end of September.

We’ll see, but I feel about a 50-game season the way Juliet felt about falling in love with Romeo so quickly:

“I have no joy of this contract tonight.
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “It lightens.”

73 thoughts on “The owners propose, the virus disposes

  1. Is this really gonna work?

    The reality, though, is if team sports are going to return, they have to be not a diversion from what we’re dealing with but a reminder of how serious this situation remains. Think about Eaton and Howie Kendrick staying socially distant as they pull off their gear-changing, hot-rod-driving routine following a home run. Follow the example of base coaches Bob Henley and Chip Hale as they wear masks.

    • On reflection, I am not sanguine about the 2020 season – not for the Dodgers alone, but for all of baseball. If the season happens I will watch, but with great ambivalence and the expectation that, at some point, it’s likely to crash and burn from the pandemic.

      • I have my doubts about all of organized sports at least for the remainder of the year. Until a vaccine is proven and millions of doses made available, I don’t think attending or playing will be safe.

    • It seems that the Dodgers have done just about everything possible to help him.

      • In his prime, would’ve been a monster at Coors. Given his defensive shortcomings and the huge outfield there, probably little more than a DH now.

      • You betcha.

        I’ve heard about the travel team culture and its costs, but I hadn’t thought it all the way through to the logical conclusion: if you’re a kid whose parents (or single parent) are less than upper-middle class, you’re not going to be able to participate, which means you’re not likely to get noticed by even one of what few scouts are left, which means you’re likely to give up baseball altogether.

  2. 51 players are in the Dodgers’ initial player pool to start the season.

    …28 pitchers, five catchers, seven infielders, seven outfielders and four infielders/outfielders.

    The player pools, which had to be submitted Sunday around Major League Baseball, can include up to 60 players that teams can invite to Spring Training 2.0 and are eligible to play for their teams this season. They include members of the 40-man roster as well as any non-40-man players under contract who can add depth or could use the workload.

      • I met Reuss at a Dodgertown West weekend several years ago in Las Vegas. Six teams of seniors, each of which played three games over three days at a high school field. Reuss was quite personable, down to earth. Said that he had never heard the big leagues referred to as “The Show.” He pitched 22 seasons in the majors.

  3. SI’s Ten Big Questions about the shortened season.

    1. Will there really be one?
    2. What will games look like (many MANY pitching changes)
    3. Which teams benefit most from a short season (Tampa Bay, San Diego, Houston, Washington)

    And seven more!

  4. On TBLA tonight, the watch party is Game 5 of the 1988 Series, when the Dodgers fielded a truly dominant lineup.

  5. If a game goes to extra innings this season, and the tenth starts with an automatic runner on 2B, does this raise the possibility that a team could lose a perfect game?

    • And what about the pitcher’s ERA if the run scores? No pitcher put him on base,

      • They have decided it will not be an earned run. I presume, however, if there’s a walkoff homer that that run will be earned.

      • Lotsa young talent, but I’d think it’d be a dogfight with the Snakes (how’s that for a metaphor?). That said, so much depends on health for every team – especially if your rotation comes down with COVID-19, it’ll really test your depth.

  6. The NY Times has a good timeline of how we got to this truncated, abbreviated and disease-impacted season.

    It started this way:

    The extended disagreement between M.L.B. owners and the players’ union began in March, after the two sides quickly negotiated a return-to-play pact that they interpreted in vastly different ways in the following months.

    In that deal, the players agreed to be paid on a per-game basis, but M.L.B. later expected further salary concessions for a season played without fans in the stands. Long skeptical of owners crying poor, the union did not budge, wary of setting a precedent that could weaken them in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement when the current one ends after next season.

  7. USA Today lays out the format of this weird “season.”

    July 1: players report for “spring training”
    july 24: Season begins
    Sept. 27: Season ends

    Teams will play opponents only within their geographical region – West teams against West, and so on.

    Playoffs: So it will be business as usual come September-October – two wild cards and five teams per league.

    A universal designated hitter will be in place for 2020.

    The pandemic is causing both sides to minimize risk as much as they can, and thus it’s expected at the least that extra innings will begin with a runner on second base, though he won’t be charged as an earned run against the pitcher.

    Why? Well, the idea is to get players in and out of the stadium and not in close proximity with one another as soon as possible. It’s also fair to assume that as games grow longer and attention spans wander, best practices of social distancing and hand sanitizing figure to wane, too. So, fewer 18-inning knockdown, drag-out battles and more quick endings to get everyone on the bus and back to their Places of Quarantine.

    That may include a provision for tie games in the event the extra-innings tiebreaker fails to break an impasse quickly.

    • Artificial crowd noise will help. Can’t we get the movie industry to put digital fans in seats as well?

  8. Rather than one 9-inning game, how about adding an inning and dividing it into two 5-innlng games, a “doubleheader,” so to speak. Then there will be a 120-game schedule. Ha!

  9. Shaikin at the LA Times:

    The sides could have made this deal six weeks ago, and players would have been in spring training by now.

    Owners insisted that, because games without fans would mean less revenue than games with fans, players should take less money to play them. The March 26 agreement provided for prorated salaries regardless of attendance, but the owners did not include that until their fourth proposal.


    The failure to reach an agreement meant that radical changes proposed during negotiations — the permanent adoption of the designated hitter in the National League, a postseason expanded from 10 teams to 16 and advertising patches on uniforms — were put on hold until at least the 2022 season, pending negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.

    • Hopefully we take another giant step for black lives while the energy for doing so now is high.

    • Without arguing the merits, if MLB’s lawyers really think Dr. Baxter “invented” the term “word salad” then they have never read newspaper accounts of various politicians’ obfuscatory verbiage.

    • Hard to imagine an evaluation system where Angel is rated as a “good” ump.

    • My all-time favorite umpire was Emmett Ashford, whom I saw many times in Tacoma. We enjoyed his flamboyance.