Reality has stopped by to chat with Major League Baseball and its players’ union.
The two sides began to recalculate over the weekend after a spike in positive Coronavirus tests among a very small percentage of major-league players at spring training facilities. The league ordered the facilities to be shut down and scrubbed. The two squabbling sides wondered what they should do next.
Multiple reports indicated the two sides may have finally realized it’s time to play nicer. The season is no longer threatened strictly by the hard-headedness of these paired combatants. Instead, the virus has made a late comeback to make them reassess. And, if it’s not too late for a season, it is much too late for the league and union to have finally circled back to the topic of health. Where was this urgency and understanding a month ago? It was skipped during the grousing about money. “Should” was replaced with “100 percent” and “where and when.” The virus has no time for or interest in platitudes.
A flood of positive tests last week in key states like Florida, Texas and Arizona has moved the league closer to a deal. The players’ ability to file a future grievance has been reduced. The league can say it negotiated in “good faith” by pointing to the calendar. Medical experts say don’t play beyond the normal schedule, if into October at all. Hence, the league says regular-season play needs to stop Sept. 27.
The calendar has already popped to the final week of June. So, the late start bookended by the medically-advised close put the league in position to say around 60 games is the best it can do.
For weeks, the bickering appeared to be MLB’s biggest obstacle. It’s now become clear -- again -- navigating the virus will be the league’s challenge.
A weekend vote by the players’ union was off, then on, then off. A new report from ESPN Deportes on Monday morning said it is back on. They are considering whether to accept the commissioner’s 60-game proposal at full prorated pay -- with a variety of other parameters in the mix. The number of games is significantly lower than players would like. However, the calendar is pushing both sides to finally consider grander concessions than in the past.
Ultimately, the commissioner may have to impose a season structure. The virus will determine if anyone participates in it.
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