So far, the NBA found a way back. So far, the NHL found a way back. As for Major League Baseball–who knows?
The window of opportunity to get a season started is beginning to close.
This week, MLB owners rejected the MLBPA’s proposal of a 114-game season. This deal also included full-prorated salaries, the ability for players to opt of playing and spring training 2.0 compensation. The owners are now looking into a 50-game season at full-prorated salaries. The proposed number of games by each side alone indicates how far apart they are.
ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan put a tweet out to show how negotiations have gone compared to other leagues.
The NBA has its return-to-play plan.
Baseball might be 50 games. Or 82. Or 114. Or something. https://t.co/LbmTYdxB0w
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 3, 2020
The owners claim they want to have the season over before November because of fears of a second COVID-19 wave and competition from other sports. There’s a good chance the latter is the bigger reason. However, there is a fear a second wave could cancel the postseason. The player’s proposal factored this into the rejected proposal.
No matter the angle taken, the issue of money can be traced. The financial losses have led to some owners considering no season at all.
Is a 50-Game Season Legitimate?
The quick consensus answer is no. Passan used last season as an example of why a season can’t be that short. He referenced the World Series-champion Washington Nationals’s comeback as a reason. He also stated it takes at least 80-plus games to figure out which teams are for real, and too short a season delegitimizes accomplishments.
Regardless, the owners have the upper hand in making these decisions. Passan said that they could simply set a schedule that the players would be forced to play because of the collective bargaining agreement.
This move thought may not be smart, as it could be seen as a move in bad faith heading into negotiations for the next CBA in 2021. While it would be illegal to strike right now, these moves could lead to a strike.
The baseball world is running a huge risk. No season this year (let alone future stoppages) could greatly damage baseball’s reputation. If baseball isn’t there when the world needed them, the world will remember it.