Finally, some optimism.
You could hear it in the voices of four plugged-in baseball people late Wednesday afternoon.
"Looks like we're going to have some baseball," one previously pessimistic big-league player said enthusiastically.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," a senior executive said. "Maybe even a touch more than cautiously."
"Definitely optimistic," another management side person said.
"Even after the strongly worded dueling of a few days ago, I knew they'd keep talking," a player agent added. "Yes, I am optimistic."
The management person and the agent both cautioned that public health remains the overriding priority and that a flareup of the coronavirus could scuttle everything, but, clearly, things are trending toward Major League Baseball and the Players Association hammering out an agreement to save at least part of the 2020 season.
Bad blood brewed between the two sides over the weekend and the union shut down talks.
Commissioner Rob Manfred moved to restart the talks and optimism for a deal grew after he met with players' union head Tony Clark on Tuesday.
"We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement," Manfred said in a statement Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, the Players Association issued a statement that said, "Reports of an agreement are false." That statement was clearly in response to reports that indicated a deal was imminent.
Multiple sources say there is still work to do, but the two sides do appear to be on their way to a deal.
"I'd be surprised if something doesn't get done," the management person said.
According to reports confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia, MLB has proposed a 60-game season with the players receiving the 100 percent prorated salaries they'd been looking for. MLB had previously proposed 72 games with a chance to get 83 percent of a prorate, provided a postseason was completed.
The players want to play as many games as possible. A 66-game midpoint at 100 percent prorate seems like a logical compromise.
In the new proposed deal, MLB will get a couple of big concessions. A source confirmed that the union reportedly will not file a grievance against MLB and the postseason will be expanded to 16 teams (up from 10) in 2020 and 2021. Postseasons generate significant revenues with much of them going to the owners. Those revenues could help make up for losses incurred this season.
MLB would like to end the regular season by the end of September and contain the postseason to the month of October to avoid a potential fall flareup of the coronavirus. It is also concerned about vying for television attention with the Presidential election in early November.
If the two sides can get to the finish line in the coming days — as is expected — the season would likely commence on July 19. Teams could be in training camps by the end of June. The Phillies will hold their training camp at Citizens Bank Park and utilize other area fields if needed.
Once the season starts, teams would play in empty stadiums. Those restrictions could be loosened later in the season, based on the advice of public health experts.
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