Baseball | New York Post
Texas leaguer. Perfect game. Snow-cone catch.
Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like your other favorite baseball terms, right? Yet this bizarre baseball season now seems headed toward a most uncomfortable resolution, one so unsightly that you wonder whether the owners and players would’ve been better off canceling the whole thing back in March or April and spending 2020 as do-gooders for those impacted by the coronavirus.
On Monday night, Rob Manfred announced his intention to unilaterally implement a season — it will be 60 games — with the players getting their prorated pay as long as the owners and players sign off on health and safety protocols by Tuesday afternoon. Spring training could start as early as next week and Opening Day could be around July 20.
The commissioner faced little choice — his other move was putting a kibosh on the season altogether — once the Major League Baseball Players Association’s executive board rejected his latest proposal, which also featured 60 regular-season games, by a 33-5 count. With that, the players’ voting body sent a strong message to the commissioner: Go ahead and wield your hammer. And fasten your seat belts.
It stood as the nuclear option, one fraught with financial landmines and general ill will. Yet here we stand.
In terms of the games themselves, the biggest adjustments will emanate not from implementation, but from the health and safety protocols that will attempt to protect the players from each other as well as general society from the players on the COVID-19 front. You’ll see no fans in the ballpark, social distancing in the dugout and, as we all know by now, no spitting. Perhaps they’ll even sign off on the possibility of tie games and placing a runner on second base in extra innings, conditions on which the two sides agreed during financial discussions, to limit the participants’ time on the field, as well as a universal designated hitter this season in order to put less stress on the quickly ramped-up pitchers.
The ramifications of implementation, on the other hand, will be felt most with the game’s long-term viability, in these areas:
1. Legal battles: Both the players and the owners would retain the right to file a grievance against each other for a failure to bargain in good faith. Making the season 60 games as opposed to, say, 48, further inoculates Manfred from this potential litigation. Beyond the grievances, this sure as heck doesn’t speak well of the two sides’ compatibility as the Basic Agreement expires after next season.
2. No expanded postseason: Not necessarily bad news for those who oppose oversaturated playoffs, yet it shuts a revenue door at a time when the owners desperately need some. You can expect this to be mentioned next winter as free agents wonder why they’re not getting paid as handsomely as they hoped.
3. No players? This bats third on our list because it’s the most powerful. We’ve seen a couple of players bow out of the NBA’s restart. What if, as has been theorized for weeks now, some star players don’t compete, forfeiting their salary, just because they’re not feeling in the spirit of things? It would further discredit an already compromised campaign.
4. No fun stuff: Remember the mic’d-up players in Spring Training 1.0? Not happening now. Nor will a post-World-Series All-Star Game or Home Run Derby.
5. No advertising patches on uniforms: Every cloud has a silver lining.
Add it all up and it becomes, as Manfred said last week, a disaster. One that will impact all parties and more than likely create no winners and all losers.
If that’s just my unilateral opinion, it’s one shared by many who wonder how the heck baseball put itself in such a quagmire.