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Major League baseball officially has a plan to start the 2020 season.

Contentious negotiations between the league and players union finally ended with commissioner Rob Manfred imposing a shortened season, as the March agreement gave him the power to do.

The players responded to MLB on Tuesday, saying they could report for training by July 1, and after exchanging ideas with the league, accepted a set of health-and-safety protocols. With their answer, the league moved forward with scheduling baseball.

Here’s what we know about the upcoming season:

How many games will there be?

MLB is planning for a 60-game regular season, plus a 10-team postseason. The League announced Tuesday that it had submitted a regular season schedule for the players association to review.

When will it start?

The regular season is scheduled to open in about a month, on either July 23 or 24. That allows for three weeks of Spring Training 2.0, if the players report next week.

How is the schedule structured?

Teams will be confined to their own geographical regions, with the schedule consisting mostly of divisional play. When teams aren’t playing their division rivals, they will face teams from the corresponding geographic division. For example, the Cubs and White Sox will both face teams in the NL Central and AL Central.

 

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that teams will play 40 games within their divisions and 20 interleague games.

What health and safety precautions is MLB taking?

The full details of the health and safety protocols have not yet been made public. The protocols reportedly:

-Call for regular COVID-19 testing.

-Allow players who are at-risk or live with someone who is at-risk to opt out of the season without being docked pay, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

-Give MLB the right to move a team to a neutral site in order to address health-and-safety concerns, Nightengale reported.

-Create a separate injured list for players who test positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

-Lay out strict social distancing rules.

Will fans be allowed at games?

The short answer: Don’t count on it.

The long answer: The Dallas Morning News reported earlier this month that MLB was “inclined” to let local government “take precedence” in deciding whether or not to allow fans into stadiums. But Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot contradicted that report in a press conference Monday.

“And a lot of that is going to be dictated by their league offices, in conjunction with the players associations,” she said of Chicago’s professional sports teams. “My expectation in the short term, is that they will reopen without fans in the stands. My hope is that over time we will get to a place where we can start to see some fans in the seats in stadiums and other venues.

“Look, they're being smart. They're being prudent, just as we are. And their most valuable asset of course, is their players, and we want to make sure that when they reopen, they're doing it in a way that the players also have confidence that their health is being protected. Right now I think that means, in the short term, reopening but without fans actually physically present.”

Will MLB adopt the universal DH? 

According to Nightengale, yes. Otherwise, it would be a disadvantage to American League teams with 1/3 of games scheduled to be interleague. 

How will extra innings work?

The international tiebreaker was discussed in negotiations, and Nightengale reported that MLB will indeed use it to speed up games this season.  At the beginning of each half inning after the ninth, a runner will start on second base.

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