Monday, May 11, 2020

Major League Baseball Takes Big Step To July Opening Day

Yankee Stadium could look like this come July under a proposal to play games without fans. This was from the first game of a doubleheader between the Yankees and Orioles on May 15, 2019. Photo by Jason Schott.

Major League Baseball took a major step to launching the 2020 season when, according to the Associated Press, the owners have approved a proposal from the players' union that could lead to the season opening in July in ballparks without fans.

Spring training would be likely to begin in early to mid-June. Interestingly, especially for the Mets, the plan also envisions expanding the designated hitter to the National League. 

MLB officials are on track to make a presentation to the union on Tuesday, and an agreement with the players' association is needed, and there is expected to be a battle over a proposal detailing a revenue split that would be unprecedented for the sport. Players would receive the percentage of their 2020 salaries based on a 50-50 split of revenues Major League Baseball receives during the regular season and postseason.

One of the big questions surrounding any debate around the start of the season is how many games would be played and how the leagues would be laid out, whether they keep to the American and National Leagues, or based on the spring training leagues (Grapefruit in Florida and Cactus in Arizona).

The regular season would be 82 games, with teams playing only the other teams in their divisions. Interleague play would be limited to American League East vs. National League East, AL Central vs. NL Central, and AL West vs. NL West.

Owing to the fact that the season would be half as long as a normal one, the postseason would see 14 teams overall instead of 10, and wild cards would be doubled from two to four in each league.

According to the AP, "teams would prefer to play at their regular season ballparks but would switch to spring training stadiums or neutral sites if medical and government approvals can't be obtained for games at home. Toronto might have to play home games in Dunedin, Florida."

The All-Star Game, which was set to be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 14, will likely be cancelled.

On a day when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the "Pause" order in the state would be ending on Friday, May 15 and this promising news on the start of the baseball season, one can be tempted to see light at the end of the tunnel on the Covid-19 crisis. 

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