It’s been nearly five weeks since the MLB regular season was scheduled to begin. Baseball is still waiting as most of the country is locked down under stay-at-home orders, and everything remains up in the air. It’s clear at this point that we will not get a full season of baseball. However, there’s still a strong push to at least get part of the season, in some format.
Each week, reports of new proposals are floated around, and that makes sense since conditions are changing by the week. Yesterday, James wrote about how baseball is optimistic for a return by July. In a separate report, Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes about a new plan, which would propose a season that begins by July 2 and use a three division, ten team per division alignment. The regular season would be between 100 and 110 games (in division only), and the divisions would be based on geography. The Brewers would remain in the “Central” division, with the following teams:
Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals
The divisional alignment would basically take the current NL and AL Central divisions and combine them, with one exception. Pittsburgh would be moved to the East, and the Central would get Atlanta. This seems a bit strange as the divisions would already line up well as is, but it’s also only a proposed alignment and could change.
The advantage of this plan is that players would be able to play at home and not have to leave their families for 3+ months. Travel would be limited with only in division games, helping to reduce the stress on teams. However, the plans also would have some issues to overcome. One big issue is the timeframe. If games started on July 2, that would only leave 91 days to get 100-110 games in before October. As Jaymes noted yesterday, this could be mitigated by playing a few weeks into October, as well as scheduling some doubleheaders, but it would be quite a push to make it happen.
This would also still need approval on several fronts to happen. Both the team owners and players would need to approve any plan. The USA Today article notes a few team owners have already said they will refuse to play unless players take a pay cut. However, negotiations are also underway for that, with a potential “sliding scale” to be used to determine the cuts based on lost revenue. The players would also need to approve the plan, as they would be at risk in any type of playing situation.
State governments would have to approve the plans as well. California governor Gavin Newsom has said there will be no sporting events with fans until the stay-at-home order ends. If some states open up sooner than others, it could create a scenario where some teams can play in front of fans while others will play in empty stadiums. If that happens, more negotiation may be needed to determine what to do with that revenue.
The plans for a MLB season are still under heavy discussion and could easily change by the day. However, the optimism to get a MLB season together this year is still high. There is a lot to discuss, but the push is there. For now, we just have to wait and see what happens.