Major League Baseball, you’re on the clock. And you don’t have much time, either.
MLB originally was scheduled to kick off its 2020 season March 26. But due to COVID-19, things didn’t go according to plan.
Since then, MLB and the MLB Players’ Association have been battling over how to best begin (and complete) the 2020 season, with COVID-19 in mind. And it’s safe to say league executives and players have not seen eye-to-eye on this issue.
Naturally, MLB seems to be aiming for a more modest proposal than players. Back in April, the league proposed an abbreviated season that included a 50-50 revenue-sharing proposal that players were wildly opposed to. Players instead countering with a 114-game season that would Oct. 30. And that plan didn’t please MLB either, leading the league to propose a stringent 50- to 60-game proposal, though it did feature prorated pay.
Players continued to balk at MLB’s proposal, so the league reportedly has a new deal on the table. The league’s newest proposal consists of a 76-game regular season, with players receiving 75 percent prorated salaries. Still, it appears the MLBPA will reject the league’s newest proposal, leaving negotiations at a standstill.
One of the biggest issues on the table is the amount of money MLB players are insisting on making, though it’s not hard to see why. Some critics chalk it up to players wanting as much money as possible, and while that might be the case for some players, many are concerned about the health risks they might face once play officially resumes.
In fact, MLB already has released a list of proposed health protocols that go into effect should the 2020 season be played, including not spitting on the field, no physical contact between players and no accessing particular portions of the clubhouse (ex. showers), among other major restrictions. And according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, players are being asked to sign a consent form to be tested, which also would act as an acknowledgment of risk. The MLBPA says it will consider the proposal, but it wants to see the language first.
Regarding health risk, players are asked by MLB to sign a consent to be tested and acknowledgement of risk, not a waiver of claims. MLB asked union if players would sign it. Union said it will consider once it sees language. If union sees an issue, this wont be sticking point.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 9, 2020
Baseball could be one of the safest sports to return amid the COVID-19 era. Sports regularly in close contact, like football and basketball, could have a much harder time at curbing the virus’ effect on the league than MLB could, considering the extent of the physical contact comes in tags and slides.
At least one recent report, however, has suggested MLB owners actually are OK with forgoing the 2020 season. Many teams are struggling financially, making it difficult for them to pay players for the 2020 season.
But let’s be honest. If MLB is going to get a 2020 season under its belt, the league needs to come to some sort of compromise — and fast.
We’ve already lost at least three months of the typical season, and likely will lose a good chunk of July. If the league and players actually want a 2020 season, they have to be willing to find some sort of middle ground, even if it means makes some concessions.
But players’ health should not be discounted during these discussions. No matter how severe the illness might be, it’s still unclear just exactly how it impacts human health. Should players risk their lives (both present and future) for the sake of entertaining fans and earning a paycheck?
Whether you believe they should or not is entirely your opinion. But the fact of the matter is players have a right to stand up for themselves, especially when it comes to their health and well-being. And yes, that includes pay, too.
Sure, a lot of these guys are multi-millionaires. But that doesn’t mean they have less of a right to healthy work conditions. After all, would you be willing to work in an environment in which you were risking your (and your family’s) health on a daily basis?
Let’s be honest: some essential workers are doing just that, and no one is saying it’s fair. So why would it be fair to force athletes — no matter the sport — to begin or resume their respective seasons?
There still are so many questions about COVID-19 that still need answers both inside and outside sports. So let’s remember that these athletes are people, too, and they deserve just as much caution as any normal person does, no matter how much money they make.
Anyway, here are some more fun tidbits from your Monday:
— If you’re still harboring any skepticism about the 2020 MLB season, Sam Kennedy wants you to have some hope.
The Boston Red Sox CEO on Monday told WHDH 7 News’ Chelsi McDonald he’s hopeful players and league executives will agree to terms for a 2020 season.
“It’s incredibly frustrating for our fans, for our players, for our front office,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had a very difficult time. We’re an industry of routine, and schedule and certainty. But I will tell you, and I want our fans to know I’m very optimistic we will play baseball this year. I really do believe that. … But I do feel that the owners and players are going to come together. … We’ve obviously committed to playing at least a 50-game schedule and hopefully we’ll make progress sooner rather than later because, boy, I think the country needs baseball.”
— Remember when Mike Vrabel was caught FaceTiming Tom Brady and Julian Edelman? Well, there’s more to that story.
As you likely remember, Edelman and Brady were courtside at Syracuse’s basketball game against North Carolina when someone in the crowd noticed the duo chit-chatting with the Titans head coach. But Vrabel cleared the air while talking to NBC Sports Boston’s The Camera Guys on Monday.
“Well, I was at the combine and we have CBS on TV and I was watching the combine and watching the guys work out, and you have a million snacks back there so I was up and down like a highway,” Vrabel said, as transcribed by WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “I look up there and they were showing Tom and Julian, so I texted (them) real quick and I was like, ‘Did you guys get highlights for the basketball game?’ Because it looked like their hair was blonde.
“Of course they immediately — they were mad so they wanted to yell at me because I texted them something funny. They FaceTime’d me and we’re sitting there laughing and talking. Jules is sitting there yelling into the phone as loud as he possibly can. That is how it all went down, just like any other time. We were just laughing and joking.”
— Oh, wait. Red Sox manager Rone Roenicke thinks there will be a 2020 season, too.
“With everybody wanting to get back on the field, I still think it’s going to happen,” Roenicke told NBC Boston’s Raul Martinez on Monday. “Even though I read a lot of negative things on the negotiations, I still believe it’ll happen.”
— Meanwhile, in the football world, the New England Patriots are staying on schedule as much as possible.
According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, the Pats “are beginning to wrap up their offseason workout program,” with most veteran players off until training camp.
I can confirm the Patriots are beginning to wrap up their offseason workout program. Most veteran players are off until training camp, as @globejimmcbride reported.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) June 9, 2020
— NBA players could face some pretty strict health protocols once the league’s 2019-20 season resumes — especially for those choosing to leave the bubble environment.
Players that leave the bubble city will be subjected to strict guidelines once they return, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Players that leave must be quarantined for no less than 10 days and must have two negative COVID-19 test results before returning to the court.
Players also will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs, though recreational drugs still will not be tested for.
It’s unclear how often the NBA plans on testing players for the coronavirus, though leagues like the NHL have promised daily testing should play resume.
Stat of the Day
Can the Milwaukee Bucks maintain their momentum after a *checks notes* five-month layoff?
The Bucks are outscoring opponents by 11.3 PPG this season. That would be the 5th-highest mark in NBA history.
The 4 teams ahead of them all won the title. pic.twitter.com/YtQ3oqPG1O
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2020
Tweet of the Day
Jaylen Brown trained with his grandfather during the NBA’s hiatus due to COVID-19, and their love clearly knows no bounds.
My grandpa is my best friend
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) June 8, 2020
Video of the Day
Get you someone that looks at you like New England Revolution players look at resuming play.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) June 8, 2020
Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images