So are we on the verge of a baseball season or what?
Conflicting reports from national reporters outlined a pair of scenarios in the ongoing slog to get a shortened 2020 season off the ground in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman set off alarm bells by reporting Wednesday afternoon that a deal between Major League Baseball and the players' union was imminent.
Breaking: MLB and players union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season, via players. Deal expected to be for prorated pay and include expanded playoffs.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
But several others followed with some necessary brake-pumping, with The Athletic's Evan Drellich reporting that MLB simply made a new proposal and that a deal wasn't close.
Source says no deal is close yet between MLB and MLBPA beccause the proposal was just sent by MLB. No agreement even in principle at this point.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 17, 2020
The union itself added some clarity.
Reports of an agreement are false.— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 17, 2020
And so we're still waiting.
As for the details of the newest proposal from the league, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, among others, reported that the regular season would include 60 games played in 70 days, with Opening Day coming wither July 19 or 20. The playoffs would be expanded for the next two seasons, and the players would receive their full prorated salaries.
Source: MLB proposal includes:— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2020
•60 games in 70 days
•Season starting July 19th/20th
•Full Prorated Salary
•Expanded Playoffs in 2020 and 2021
•Waiving of any potential grievance
Wednesday brought news that commissioner Rob Manfred, who within a week's time went from guaranteeing with 100-percent certainty that a season would happen to telling ESPN he was "not confident" there would be baseball in 2020, met with union chief Tony Clark on Tuesday night in Arizona, what was believed to be the first in-person meeting of this entire, months-long ordeal.
Breaking: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and players union chief Tony Clark had what’s being called a productive meeting face to face in Arizona. Meeting was called at Manfred’s request— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
That was viewed as a positive step, especially after Manfred's lack of confidence Monday was accompanied by a report that the league told the union there would be no season unless it promised it would take no legal action, which pointed to just how contentious things have become.
In their own ways, both ESPN's Jeff Passan and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer laid out Manfred's words Monday as a stall tactic to ward off legal action in which the league could be found to not have attempted to play the greatest number of games this year and cost the owners as much as $1 billion. That idea came to the surface again Wednesday.
A driving force in this resumption of the baseball talks:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 17, 2020
I've been hearing it wasn't so much that a group of owners didn't want to play. They just didn't want to play and face a $1 billion grievance.
You know what would make that grievance go away? Making a deal.
As mentioned in Rosenthal's report, the players would assure there would be no grievance filed.
After the union seemingly brought an end to negotiations over the weekend, asking Manfred to use his ability to impose a season of however many games he chooses, the two sides are talking again. Or talking for the first time.
Does that mean a season will happen? As it has remained all along, it seems there would be too much money to be made to not play a season. But reportedly, there are at least a few owners who would rather not play a season at all for financial reasons.
Hearing that six owners that don't want a season. @Ken_Rosenthal reports 8 or more. Urgency for Manfred to corral his group before that number grows.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) June 16, 2020
Of course, a third party could wind up throwing the biggest wrench into things: the coronavirus.
Baseball has been adamant about the regular season not stretching past the end of September and the playoffs wrapping up by the end of October due to fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, the number of cases in certain states across the country is rising dramatically right now, and just Tuesday, public-health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested baseball should consider not playing past September.