Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
It sure looks like baseball will finally be played in 2020.
The state of play: MLB owners voted unanimously Monday to impose a 60-game season that will begin around July 24, assuming players sign off on health-and-safety protocols and agree to arrive in home markets by July 1 to begin "spring" training.
Details: If the MLBPA agrees to the protocols and the July 1 arrival date by today's 5pm ET deadline, the 2020 season will look something like this:
- Number of games: 60 (over ~66 days)
- Spring training: July 1
- Opening Day: July 24–26 range
- Regular season end: Sept. 27
- Playoff field: 10 teams (same as usual)
- Salary structure: Full pro rata, which for 60 games means players will earn 37% of their full-season salary.
- Extra innings: MLB and the union previously agreed to adopt the minor league rule for extra innings, beginning every half-inning after the ninth with a runner on second base, per USA Today.
- Universal DH: The designated hitter could still arrive in the NL this year to protect pitcher health, per The Athletic (subscription).
Health and safety: We'll soon find out what changes have been made to MLB's original 67-page plan, which included, among other things:
- Testing: Multiple COVID-19 tests per week, plus multiple temperature screens per day.
- Masks: Managers and coaches would wear masks in the dugout, while players would wear masks in the clubhouse.
- Banned actions: No high-fives, fist bumps or hugs. And no spitting, chewing of tobacco or chewing of sunflower seeds.
What's next: With spring training 2.0 set to begin in about a week, players will need to travel to their home cities if they aren't in them already.
- "Some will need to find housing — undoubtedly on short leases — so a lot has to happen in a short period of time," per ESPN.
- "Roster sizes, taxi squads and new on-field rules for 2020 all have to come together — and fast."
The bottom line: In March, owners and players reached a deal that gave owners the right to impose a schedule of their desired length. After nearly three months of futile negotiations, that's ultimately what we got, with the two sides settling on a season not by agreement, but by disagreement.
- Now, both parties will face a common enemy in COVID-19 — and hope their ugly back-and-forth didn't push too many sports fans away as they finally prepare to play ball.