- The start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season has been postponed indefinitely due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Over the past month several scenarios for a return to play have been reported by ‘unnamed sources’.
- ESPN is now reporting that Major League Baseball will offer a ‘return-to-play’ proposal to the MLB Players Association within the next week.
There’s a fair amount of good news for sports betting enthusiasts right now. NASCAR will resume their schedule from Darlington on Sunday, the UFC has a big card this weekend and Germany’s Bundesliga has been given government approval to return to action. If ESPN’s report quoting an ‘unnamed source’ is correct they could soon be joined by Major League Baseball. MLB is expected to present the Players Association with a ‘return to play’ proposal within the next week.
It’s not a done deal and there are plenty of logistical issues to deal with but at least their looking in the direction of returning to play. Several teams have told players to ‘get ready for baseball’ though without any timeframe or guidance beyond that. The plan to play in Arizona without fans is still on the table though there’s not been any significant update in over a month. Despite a myriad of details that must be resolved the mood around the Majors is increasingly upbeat with considerable optimism that there will be a 2020 season in some form or another.
SPRING TRAINING IN NAME ONLY
The general timeline would have a ‘Spring Training’ beginning in early Summer–mid June is a date that has been kicked around in the media–and the season beginning in early to mid July. There are some within the sport that think these dates will need to be pushed back but that remains to be seen. Other sources suggest that teams have informed players that ‘Spring Training’ could begin as early as June 10 with the season starting on July 1.
Beyond that, there’s not much clarity as to what form the season would take. The initial plan to play in Arizona is looking less viable though the MLB reportedly has another scenario in which teams would play in three to five city ‘hubs’ similar to what the NHL has talked about. There’s a growing base of support for the MLB to play games in the teams’ home stadiums without fans. The word is that this is the preference of the players union since teams wouldn’t have to ‘sequester’ their roster in a remote location.
In any case, it’s doubtful that the Players Association will accept whatever they receive from MLB without significant changes. As soon as the union does accept a return proposal it must be approved by players and owners. The thinking is that they would also seek a ‘go ahead’ from the White House though that would likely be more symbolic than anything else.
Some of the details are mere speculation at this point. The expectation is that the season will be 80 to 100 games in length. There’s also a possibility of expanding the playoffs. The size of rosters will also be increased with a number between 30 and 50 discussed in various quarters. Once the MLB proposal is made public there should be at least a general idea of how a season would be formatted.