It’s not time to jump for joy yet, baseball fans, but it’s okay to let out a little grin. There has been an increasing number of rumblings about a return of Major League Baseball, with their latest proposal consisting of three ten-team divisions based on geography. The season will be shorter, but the playoffs are expected to be expanded. Teams will play in their home ballpark, and they are optimistic of a return before July 2nd. That was reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today over a week ago, and although he said there were still a lot of hurdles to jump through for this to happen, it is starting to look more and more realistic by the day.
On Monday, former major leaguer Trevor Plouffe broke the news that a second Spring Training will begin on June 10th, and Opening Day will take place on July 1st in teams’ home ballparks.
Want some good baseball news??
I just heard from multiple sources that on June 10th, Spring Training 2 will start. July 1st will be Opening Day and all teams will be playing at their home ballparks.
We’ll be discussing it in full on the next @TalkinBaseball_
— Trevor Plouffe (@trevorplouffe) May 4, 2020
While that received a ton of pushback from accredited baseball writers everywhere, Ken Rosenthal and multiple other sources confirmed Plouffe’s original report yesterday. While nothing is official and adjustments will most likely have to be made, there is an increasing amount of optimism that baseball will take place in 2020.
Here’s an excerpt from Rosenthal’s article on The Athletic, explaining how teams will have to approach this abbreviated season:
“If everyone is expecting baseball to look like and feel like and be the way it’s been over the past 10 years, it’s going to be really hard to get through the season,” one executive said. “If teams and players are willing to be flexible and adaptive, that gives us the best chance to get through.
“We have to be prepared for postponed and canceled games, and not have the expectation we’re going to get every single game in. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. Hopefully we get back playing and it’s smooth sailing to play the way we expect. But hope isn’t a good plan.
“The reality is, we don’t know what’s going to happen over the next five months. I would guess there are things that aren’t going to go the way we planned. Our ability to adapt is going to be really important.”
There will also be financial issues. The players and the league have already agreed to pro-rated salaries for a shorter season. However, with no fans expected to be in attendance, owners are going to want to pay the players even less. I’m not so sure they will be able to win that battle, considering an agreement is already in place, but they will push for it under the proposed plan, which is just another bump in the road that may sidetrack things.
There’s still a long way to go before anything becomes set in stone, and most of it will be determined by the virus itself. If things continue to slow down over the next month or so, a 2020 season looks very likely. But if the outbreak spikes in a few major cities, it may be the icing on the cake, dashing the hopes of baseball fans everywhere. One thing does seem certain, however: if baseball cannot return by early July, it does not look like there will be a 2020 season. But while that may sound discouraging, this is the closest we’ve been to a real return since things were shut down in mid-March.