While UFC and NASCAR are making their returns this month and the PGA Tour has its plans in place for a June restart, the major team sports are having a much more difficult and complicated time working out the details of a return. The NBPA had a call with Adam Silver recently in which he prepared them for various possibilities, including no fans in stadiums stretching until a vaccine is in place and offering little in the way of certainty about finishing this season.
Major League Baseball is having similar conversations, but has the added issue of figuring out compensation for players as owners push for a revenue split dictating how much players make this season — something not in the MLB CBA. According to the Associated Press, MLB owners have agreed on a proposal that they will pitch to the MLBPA on Tuesday that would bring baseball back in July, with a spring training period taking place in June, and teams would play divisional opponents and interleague matchups with their regional counterparts in an 82-game season.
Major League Baseball owners gave the go-ahead Monday to making a proposal to the players’ union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans, a plan that envisioned expanding the designated hitter to the National League for 2020.
Each team would play about 82 regular-season games: against opponents in its own division plus interleague matchups limited to AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West. Postseason play would be expanded from 10 clubs to 14 by doubling wild cards in each league to four.
The AP reports owners are pushing for a 50-50 revenue split, something the union has pushed back on and would prefer to go with the current agreement that will have players receive the percentage of their salaries based on the percentage of the 162-game season that gets played. There are also concerns from players about testing and protocols for positive tests, something the owners plan reportedly addresses but details are not currently known.
The proposal also includes adding designated hitters to the National League, as well as expanding rosters to 30 and adding a “practice squad” of sorts to mitigate the loss of minor league players as the minor league season is not part of this plan.
It will be fascinating to see what the players are willing to agree to and what the details on where games will be played — at home ballparks or at spring training sites in Arizona and Florida — and surely other leagues like the NBA and NHL will be keeping an eye on how this baseball proposal is received by the players as they work out their own plans.