NEW YORK – Major League Baseball released a 60-game schedule on Tuesday-evening that will start on July 23 or 24 in empty baseball fields, as the sport tries to continue amid the corona virus after months of bitterness.
A dramatically changed season with games full of new rules was the result of unsuccessful financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day.
The MLB announcement came as more players continue to test positive for the virus – at least seven on the Philadelphia Phillies alone. And there was a strong realization that if the health situation worsened, all games could still be wiped out.
“What happens if we all get it?” Milwaukee pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted this week.
The day after the players’ association rejected an economic deal and opened up the possibility of a complaint claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the squabbling parties agreed on an operation manual. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.
In a turn, the parties expanded the designated hitter for games for the first time with National League-teams and brought about the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.
Playoff teams remain at 10 for the time being – there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called up 16 teams.
On July 1, players will sign up to resume training. It remains to be seen which players will report back to work – high risk individuals are allowed to sign out and still receive salary and service time, but others who do not participate will receive neither money nor the service credit needed to qualify for free agency and salary brokerage.
Each team plays 10 games against each of its four league rivals and four games against each of the five clubs in the corresponding league in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.
A team is scheduled to take just one trip to each city it visits in MLB’s shortest season since 1878. a schedule of such brevity that some fans may question the legitimacy of records.
Whatever happens, the season will be one of the most unusual ever for a sport proud that the title race is a marathon and not a sprint: Washington started 19-31 and 27-33 last year but finished 93-69 to earn a wild card and won a World Series of seven games for the first title.
“There’s a lot more pressure because I think in a 60-game schedule, you have 25% more teams who can compete, who had no idea they would compete for 162 games,” said Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz a broadcaster.
The trade deadline is August 31, and the deadline to be in an organization to qualify for the postseason is September 15. Teams can resume trading on Friday when rosters are no longer frozen.
Active rosters are 30 during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 thereafter. They will not expand to September 28 as originally planned this year.
Without small leagues, teams would be allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi team. A maximum of three taxi team players can travel with a team to a match, and one of the three must be a catcher.
MLB adheres to the planned innovation that pitchers should face three batters or end a half-inning – players declined to agree a year ago, but also waived their right to block.
The injured list minimum for pitchers at 10 days instead of returning to 15 as originally intended.
Public opinion tore both sides as they engaged in a relentless financial struggle during a pandemic that resulted in more than 120,000 deaths and 2.3 million infections in the United States and an unemployment rate of 14.7%, the highest since Great Depression.
MLB originally hoped to be the first American big league to return, with an 82-game schedule that started around July 4, but public slips broke out between management and players who mistrust the claims of teams of economic distrust after years of valuing the franchise. MLB claimed it would lose $ 640,000 for every extra game in the regular season without gate-related earnings, a figure the union contested.
MLB was annoyed by the union leadership team, led by former All-Star first baseman Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, an attorney in August 2018. Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem were furious when Clark said he was the result of a -on-a-consideration-meeting with Manfred last week made a proposal instead of what MLB called a framework for a deal.
Instead of playing 162 games over 186 days, the season will be 60 games over 66 or 67 days, depending on whether there is a nationally broadcast Thursday night opener. It is scheduled to end on September 27, leaving little margin to make up for the September rainfall.
Players are given staggered reporting times over multiple days for intake screening. The time will be used to test the coronavirus prior to the resumption of workouts, which were halted on March 12 due to the pandemic.
Due to an increase in infections in the summer heat of Florida and Arizona, 28 teams are currently leaning towards training in their regular season. Detroit partially stayed with Lakeland, Florida, and Toronto hoped to get government approval to train at Rogers Center.
According to the deal that the parties reached on March 26, which would be opening day, players would receive pro rata parts of their salary if the 60-game schedule is not cut short by the virus. Salaries originally amounted to $ 4 billion, and the pro rata portion of approximately 37% reduces the salary to $ 1.48 billion.
Salaries would range from a minimum of $ 563,500 to $ 36 million for Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at the top, but the spread would now range from $ 208,704 to $ 13,333,333.
MLB had initially attempted in its initial economic proposal last month to cut the salary to about $ 1 billion, and players swore they wouldn’t give up the full pro rata salary and suggested a 114 game schedule that was $ 2.8 billion.
The relationship deteriorated again to the level of the labor wars that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95, and the union threatened to file a complaint that MLB was not complying with the March deal stipulating that it required the longest economically viable season, depending on different other provisions. MLB alleged that the union had negotiated in bad faith and the matter would be brought before arbitrator Mark Irvings.
That would be a prelude to the expiry of the current employment contract on December 1, 2021, which will likely be followed by an exclusion.