With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Major League Baseball is just one of many sport leagues dealing with less-than-normal schedule.
The MLB schedule was slated to begin league-wide today; but commissioner Rob Manfred announced the regular season wouldn’t start until at least mid-May. With the unprecedented and uncertain nature of the situation surrounding the Coronavirus, the league has much to consider when deciding on a new opening day. Here are some of the issues they must take into account.
- A deal with the MLB Players Association that would advance a portion of players’ salaries and cover a wide swath of labor-related issues.
- Receiving assurances from teams that non-player employees will receive paychecks through at least April, with cost-cutting measures a possibility come May
- Delivering payments to minor league players, most of whom have not received a paycheck since the end of last season in early September
The latest on the state of MLB, packed with news, including:
– MLB/MLBPA deal coming together
– Teams pledging to pay employees
– Potential start dates
– Minor league pay
– Doubleheaders galore
– Neutral-site playoff potential
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 25, 2020
It seems inevitable they won’t fit in a full 162-game season.
With fewer games played, it is likely the MLBPA and MLB will need to come to some pro-rated agreement when it comes to salaries; as well as how to deal with the missed service time for Free Agents to be.
While still working on a deal, early indications are that a player’s would receive full service credit if a championship is played. This allows players to honor years on the contract and, for some, build to an even bigger one.
Another problem the MLB faces is unique to that of the NBA and NHL. While those leagues suspended operations before the climax of their seasons; they still had most of their year. With television contracts mostly fulfilled and tickets bought and paid for, the leagues still made money.
But the MLB, whose season has nearly twice the games of the NBA or NHL, stopped before it began.
Teams have had no chance to make the money that pays its players and facility employees. Figuring out how to get this done is just another of the complicated issues the two sides need to work out
Once the payment plan around the league is set, they must then move onto how to play the games.
Reports show the league and MLBPA have discussed pushing the regular season into November. To get it done ESPN’s Jeff Passan said a number of players are willing to play weekly double-headers. While this would increase the physical toll the already grueling season takes on players; it is most likely way to maximize the number of games they can play.
With the regular season pressing on into late fall, the postseason could last on to early winter. To avoid the potential of playing games in New York or Philadelphia in December; the league is leaning towards using neutral sites. If indoor gatherings are permitted by the postseason its likely the teams involved would play either indoors or in warm cities with more agreeable weather.
While both sides have discussed these issues at length, uncertainty still prevails. Nobody knows what will develop in the coming weeks and months with COVID-19.
We’re all just along for the ride.