Major League Baseball has been postponed since March 12, but the league will soon be returning to action. The owners and the players' union have now agreed to a proposal that involves a shortened season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a concrete start date. The fans will not attend the games, but they will be able to watch from the comfort of their homes.
On Tuesday, MLB announced its plan to start the 2020 season in July, which has been agreed to by the MLB Players Association. Players will report to "spring" training by July 1 and the season will begin on July 23 or 24. The regular season will be 60 games long with each team playing its divisional opponents 40 times. The other 20 games will be against the opposite league's corresponding geographical division, meaning the NL East will play the AL East and so on. When players arrive at camp, they will be tested for COVID-19 before starting workouts. They will continue to test every other day during camp, regular season and the postseason.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with Baseball again soon.”
The Associated Press first reported in early May that the 30 owners had approved the proposal that would be presented to the players' union. There were initial concerns about the proposed revenue split and the impact that no fans would have on the amount of money earned by both the players and the teams. This belief was well-founded as the players' union fought against the proposal. MLB is the only league that does not operate with a salary cap, nor is there an existing revenue split. The proposal would have altered the system in a way that the players' union did not want.
The negotiations were contentious at times, especially after MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told The Athletic that the owners are trying to use a global health crisis to get a salary cap. The discussions took another turn when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed the return of baseball only to later say that he "wasn't confident" the season would happen. However, the players' union and owners did ultimately reach an agreement. Baseball will return for a shortened season, and it will bring numerous changes.
As part of this approved proposal, the 30 teams will play roughly half of the regular season. That plan had the season lasting for 82 games as opposed to 162, and the players will return to spring training in mid-June. According to the AP, the matchups will be within each team's own division and will include predetermined interleague matchups — AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West.0comments
Now that the season has been approved, there are other concerns that will be addressed in the coming months. Specifically, the players and teams will want to ensure that they are returning to a safe environment. Implementing testing to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus will be part of the process, as will working with local governments.
The games are currently scheduled to be held at home stadiums that have local and state governmental approval. This includes Texas, Florida, Georgia and other states that have begun the process of reopening amid the pandemic. The schedule could change in the coming weeks to include games in California and New York, but that will depend on the health conditions in each respective area.