Major League Baseball, which never could come to an agreement with its players, is apparently going to force a season on those players, if the players agree to a proposed health and safety plan.
But you have to wonder if that return-to-play plan is actually going to work. So much time has been spent between the two sides trying to work out monetary and scheduling issues, there is a possibility that the plan to play -- which includes travel from city to city and a rushed training camp -- will not provide for player safety, in terms of physical readiness for a season and protection from COVID-19.
Baseball is not going to quarantine or play in a bubble. And although there will be no fans present at games, the teams are going to shuttle between cities and apparently not control the comings and goings of players and staff.
Given the virus situation in many MLB cities, this sounds reckless and dangerous.
But baseball has already botched an opportunity to do this thing right by delaying its return so deep into its usual season. It should have been playing games by now, with the sports spotlight nearly all to itself.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has been unable to find consensus between players and ownership and has done everything he can to show he isn’t up to his job. Yes, he works for the owners. All commissioners do.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t mediate, arbitrate and create consensus.
Mike Veeck, whose father (Bill Veeck, as in Wreck) is in baseball’s Hall of Fame for his innovative methods of running MLB teams, has been owning and operating minor-league and independent-league teams for years and recently described Manfred as a man not qualified for his job:
“Manfred doesn’t like baseball,” Veeck said. “He’s a labor lawyer. All he likes is winning a negotiation. And his right-hand guy, [Dan] Halem, he’s the same. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Bud Selig. The game was his life. I believe that serving the ‘best interest of baseball’ that’s part of the commissioner’s job description … that should mean something.”
Amen. And MLB is going to have a very difficult time digging itself out of this miserable summer of indecision and acrimony. Especially in light of recent decisions to drastically cut back minor-league teams, which chops away at the sport's grassroots foundation.
This is going to be a very damaging summer for MLB, even if it does manage to somehow play a woefully inadequate 60-game schedule.