Major League Baseball has a plan to return to action this summer. Fans might like it because it is baseball. Owners will like it because they can get back to the business of making money. Players? Meh, they might not be too happy.
The 2020 MLB season will be baseball; it just might not be baseball like we are used to. Here’s what baseball 2020 will look like.
Spring Training … Again
Players were in the midst of spring training when the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to the season. With roughly two months off, players are going to need some sort of preparation period to get ready for the season.
There will likely be a three-week “spring training” sometime in June to prepare for the 2020 season. Training will be held either at a team’s training facility in Arizona or Florida or at their home ballpark.
Opening Day & The Season
The 2020 season would probably start on or around July 1. That would give teams enough time to play an 80-game schedule. Doing so would mean the regular season would end sometime in September. It also means players would only play half of the normal schedule. That could be a problem that we’ll tackle later.
Teams would play more games closer to home to cut down on travel. Games would be played against division opponents plus teams that are relatively close geographically.
If you’re the Detroit Tigers, you’ll play you’re division foes Chicago White Sox, Kansas City, Minnesota, and Cleveland. Other games would be against the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee.
The Ongoing PR Battle Between MLB Players, Rob Manfred & Owners
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred likes the idea of an expanded playoff. Currently, 10 of the 30 teams make the MLB playoffs. The proposal for this season is to add two more per league for a total of 14 teams.
The team with the best record in each league gets a bye and the other six play best-of-three series to see who advances. There is also an idea being shopped around to have the division winner choose its first-round opponent.
Whatever happens, expect the unexpected. Just like the coronavirus.
Rosters, Safety & More
There probably will not be any minor league seasons this year. With that in mind plus the fact pitchers will not have had a full spring training; the league is thinking an expanded roster is needed. There are a couple of ideas being considered.
One is to simply expand the roster. Teams currently keep 26 players. This could be expanded to 30. The other idea is to mimic the NFL and keep a practice squad of players that would travel and train with the team and be available to play when necessary.
Safety is a huge issue. Teams will have to test players, coaches, and staff repeatedly. The plan that is in place also includes this – if any player tests positive, the season continues as planned.
Some players, like Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell, has an issue with that. Snell, a former Cy Young Award winner, has said any proposal to resume the season has to consider the risk to players. With that risk, Snell was, of course, referring to players’ compensation.
Ahh, and there it is. The one thing that it all comes down to … cash money.
With the schedule basically cut in half, players would receive half their salary, right? Not exactly.
When MLB and the players association agreed that players would accept prorated salaries once the season resumed, there was a catch. That agreement assumed a return to normal play, you know, games with fans in the stands.
That is not going to happen, at least not right away. It has been estimated that owners will lose an average of $640,000 per game playing in front of zero fans. Without that revenue, owners and players are going to have to come to some sort of new agreement.
Player salaries have never been linked to team revenue, but in this emergency situation MLB could have decided not to pay its players. Some sort of compromise will be needed to ensure a 2020 season. Otherwise, the league stands to lose roughly $4 billion. Fans will lose even more.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.