By Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse
WASHINGTON – On June 23, Major League Baseball (MLB) players agreed to report to training camp on July 1, resulting in the MLB season taking place in 2020.
For weeks, it seemed like a baseball season was not going to happen based on owners and players arguing over the number of games played and the amount of pay received in return.
On Monday, June 22, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) rejected MLB’s offer of a 60-game season, which resulted in league commissioner Rob Manfred taking matters into his own hands and implementing a season himself.
However, MLB officially announced a 60-game regular season that will begin on either July 23 or July 24, with a specialized “spring” training session starting on July 1st.
The shortened season will also include new rules for 2020:
- Active rosters will have 30 players for the first two weeks, 28 for the next two weeks, and 26 in week five.
- A separate injury list for the coronavirus.
- Teams will play 10 games vs. divisional opponents; four vs. opposite league divisional opponents.
- Universal designated hitter (DH) for both NL and AL.
- The trade deadline will be August 31.
- The runner starts at second base in extra innings
Due to COVID-19 still sweeping the nation, players must follow a lot of safety measures, as they are not allowed to make deliberate contact with any other player aside from making tags. That means don’t expect anything like high-fives or fights between players.
In terms of COVID-19 testing, it will be implemented in three phases: prescreening, intake, and regular monitoring, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.
For prescreening, players and staffers will be tested three or four days before arriving at camp. For intake, they will then undergo a temperature check, a saliva or nose-swab test, and a blood test for antibodies two days before reporting to camp.
Finally, for regular monitoring, players will have their temperature and symptoms checked twice per day.
As for the minors, the MiLB season has been on hold since April, as they are awaiting word from the MLB if the season will be played at all.
But for now, an apparent free agent league is in place, so that MLB players could quickly sign a fill-in player if necessary.
According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, MLB has talked with Nashville about having two teams of unsigned players there. Nashville is the home of the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.
The players would serve as an emergency pool and would make $400 per week, as MLB teams would have to pay a fee to Nashville to sign one of those free agents.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Nashville might not be the only location for this free agent league, as Rosenthal stated that “MLB expects other minor league teams to do something similar to Nashville and allow major league teams to sign players for a fee, operating the same way independent leagues do.”
MLB is not the only North American pro sports league planning to return, the NBA and NHL are expected to begin their playoffs in late July/early August, MLS announced a tournament which will kick off in Orlando on July 8, the WNBA plans to tip off their season in late July, and the NFL is expected to start on time in the fall.