What protocols made it into MLB and MLBPA's health-and-safety agreement?

What protocols made it into MLB and MLBPA's health-and-safety agreement?

Health-and-safety talks between MLB and the players association went more than three hours past the deadline imposed by the league. But on Tuesday evening, the MLBPA announced the news on Twitter: “All remaining issues have been resolved and Players are reporting to training camps.”

Among the changes made, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported, players with pregnant spouses can go on the three-day paternity list, and in the case of a family emergency players can take up to seven days of paid time off. If the player asks for more time than that, his club can decide whether to pay him for additional games missed.

The players association reportedly proposed in earlier negotiations for players who cohabitate with a high-risk individual to have the choice to opt out of the season and still receive pay. The league had only extended that protection to players who were themselves considered at high risk.

Under those proposed rules, Mike Trout, one of baseball’s biggest stars, would have qualified to earn a paycheck if he decided to opt out of the season. He and his wife Jessica are expecting their first child in August. Two months ago, when MLB was still considering playing the season in one location, he spoke about how hard it would be for players to leave their families for extended periods of time.

“What am I going to do if she goes into labor?” he told NBC Sports. “Am I going to quarantine for two months after I get back? Because obviously I can’t miss the birth of our first child.”

The situation has changed since then. Teams are scheduled to play in their home cities. And under the final protocols, Trout is reportedly guaranteed only a few paid days off for the birth of his first child.

The health-and-safety protocols also require players on opposing teams to stay six feet from one another before and after the game, and in between innings, according to Nightengale. Players will be asked to limit their time at the ballpark and will only be able to arrive within five hours of the game and leave within 90 minutes after.

Players and managers must also remain six feet away from umpires, The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham reported, and those who don't are subject to suspension.

There will be a separate injured list for those who test positive for COVID-19, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported. The players would not spend a specified number of days on the COVID-19 injured list. There will also be a 10-day IL and 45-day IL for other injuries, according to's Mark Feinsand.

If necessary, MLB will be able to relocate teams to neutral sites to address health and safety concerns, according to Nightengale.

"The health and safety of players and employees will remain MLB’s foremost priorities in its return to play," the league said in a release. "MLB is working with a variety of public health experts, infectious disease specialists and technology providers on a comprehensive approach that aims to facilitate a safe return."

More details of the newly agreed upon health-and-safety protocols had yet to be made public at the time of the announcement, but more are expected to be released in the coming days.

The Tuesday  deadline for the health-and-safety agreement had seemed ambitious in the first place.

On Monday evening, the league said in a statement that it was giving the players association until 4 p.m. CT to answer two questions: will players be able to report to camp by July 1, and will the MLBPA agree on the health and safety protocol outlined in the operating manual?

MLB said it needed those two pieces of information “to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.” According to multiple reports, the league’s decision to implement a 60-game season was contingent on the players agreeing to both.

On Tuesday, a half an hour past the deadline, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the two sides were still discussing health and safety protocols, but with “no major snags.” About wo hours later, MLB and MLBPA had finalized the protocols.

Health-and-safety negotiations began back in May, when MLB reportedly delivered a 67-page document on the subject to the players association.

It laid out a testing plan that would have players screened for COVID-19 multiple times a week and their temperatures taken much more frequently. It detailed a staggered spring training ideally separated between multiple sites for each team.

It limited contact between players by banning high fives, fist bumps and hugs. It sought to cut down on the amount of spit in the air and on the ground by prohibiting chewing tobacco and sun flower seeds.

The players responded days later with notes on testing frequency and protocols, protections for high-risk players and family members, access to injury prevention and treatment therapies, and on-site medical personnel, to name a few.

But once MLB handed its first economic proposal to the players, health and safety discussions faded out of public discussion. As tension rose between the two sides in economic negotiations last month, the union said they remained far apart in health and safety talks as well. But in a mad dash Tuesday, the two sides made it to the finish line.


EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this post contained reported details on what players can opt out of the season and receive full prorated salaries, but this article has been updated to reflect new reported information.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: There will be an MLB season..we think


White Sox Talk Podcast: There will be an MLB season..we think

At the time of writing this description, it seems like baseball will be happening in 2020. That can very well change by the time you read this, but there is hopefully going to be a season through all the fighting and back and forth between the players and owners.

Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Ryan McGuffey discuss and provide updates on the current state of baseball, and the potential and hopeful start to the season. 

(1:56) - Rob Manfred will start a season soon

(8:25) - Will big name players even play this season?

(14:40) - Trevor Bauer says the game has been damaged by the fighting of the players and owners

(21:02) - MLB has lost the opportunity to be the lone sport to start a season

Listen here or below.

White Sox Talk Podcast


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Optical delusion: Hey, MLB, we waited three months for this?

Optical delusion: Hey, MLB, we waited three months for this?

Congratulations, Baseball, you’ve done it again.

You’ve managed to combine ugly optics with bad timing for the worst look among the country’s major league sports leagues during a time of national crisis.

Pulling up in the rear among all the leagues coming up with a plan to play what’s left of a 2020 season, it took the commissioner using his power to impose an abbreviated season to even do that much after MLB and the union failed to reach agreement on financial terms.

RELATED: Play ball: MLB to implement shortened 2020 baseball season

Just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic to wipe out major sports across the country?

We can only hope the dozens of reported positive coronavirus tests across baseball, hockey and football in the past week don’t signal that extreme outcome.

But Major League Baseball already has at least temporarily shut down every team’s spring training facility in Florida and Arizona, two states experiencing significant spikes in cases. 

If they can yet pull off a season, it will involve no more than 60 regular-season games, none of the expanded playoffs built into the proposal players rejected in a vote Monday and have teams conduct their Spring Training 2.0 in their home cities — except, perhaps, the Toronto Blue Jays, who could be forced to share another team’s site because of Canadian travel restrictions.

And even if the virus cooperates, there’s still the matter of the players being asked to agree on two stipulations. In a statement released Monday night, MLB gave the union until 4 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday to sign off on players reporting to “spring training” July 1 and on the health and safety protocols in its “Operating Manual” provided to the union weeks ago.

It’s possible the protocols could be in reasonable need of a tweak or two given the new landscape of risk. But now that players have been given their #WhenAndWhere answer, they’re expected to agree to play.

Either way, the nagging question persists:

This is what we’ve all been waiting for all this time?

For all 88 days since the sides reached agreement on basic financial parameters? For all 42 days since MLB reopened talks with its first detailed proposal, including the health protocols?

For all the downtime between counterproposals and all the six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other salary proposals by owners in seeking cuts beyond straight pro-rata pay?

For crying out loud, these guys put almost as few pitches in play the last three months as they did the last time a game was played.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer might have provided the best 50-word summary of baseball’s public image in a tweet after the union vote Monday night:

“It’s absolute death for this industry to keep acting as it has been. Both sides. We’re driving the bus straight off a cliff. How is this good for anyone involved? Covid-19 already presented a lose, lose, lose situation and we’ve somehow found a way to make it worse. Incredible.”

While there’s certainly room for some blame on either side, Bauer is generous with his “both sides” take, considering the owners always were in position to best weather the financial storm and make a season happen without asking the players taking all the health risks to take deeper cuts beyond pro-rated pay.

The owners have enjoyed record revenues and equity growth for nearly two decades, and have years more to recoup losses compared to players, yadda, yadda, yadda.

With their no vote Monday, players reserved the right to file a grievance over a negotiating process they might claim was kicked like a can so far down the street as to allow no time left to play 100 or more games — a grievance that could put close to $1 billion at stake for the owners.

And does anyone still remember, this all comes on the heels of the Astros’ historic cheating scandal and the commissioner’s subsequent reference to the World Series trophy as a “piece of metal”?

Meanwhile, the virus threatens to make all of it moot.

Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish — the first MLB star to raise concerns over the emerging pandemic back in spring training — tweeted concerns again over the weekend about all the positive tests being reported.

MORE: Cubs' Yu Darvish weighs in on coronavirus concerns amid MLB's attempt to return

Will he choose to opt out of playing? Will any number of other high-profile players with enough financial security and/or star power?

Of course, none of that matters if continued outbreaks stop any or all the major sports leagues from pulling off their plans, leaving many fans with perhaps at least small comfort and solace of best intentions and best effort.

Or, in the case of baseball fans, another piece of whatever the commissioner wants to call this.

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