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Will there be a 2020 MLB season? Here's where things stand between the owners and the MLBPA

Will there be a 2020 MLB season? Here's where things stand between the owners and the MLBPA

The relationship between the MLB owners and players is not in a good place right now. After weeks of going back-and-forth of 'he said', 'they said' and both sides trying to one-up another in negotiations we seemingly are nowhere closer to baseball than we were in early April. 

The two have reached a stalemate where neither group looks good. Neither claims the other is acting in good faith. 

To sum up everything that has transpired in the last several months, a 2020 MLB season is in major jeopardy. And many insiders anticipate the damage from this argument could have lasting effects on the game.

Where the owners and MLBPA negotiations stand

On Saturday, June 13 the players promptly responded to MLB's latest proposal that players indicate was a 72-game season at 70% of an also previously agreed upon prorated pay. They basically said they were done negotiating.

The MLBPA asked Commissioner Rob Manfred to impose a 50-game with prorated pay as was part of an original salary agreement in March. To which they closed their answer with, "As a result, it unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”

What followed was baseball trying to cover themselves as their bluff was called. Manfred appeared on SportsCenter saying he was less than 100 percent confident of a season. The league's chief negotiating officer responded by saying they won't impose a season without the players signing a waiver, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The waiver absolves MLB from negotiating in bad faith. That makes things very sticky for MLB and the owners if it is proven they did.

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Why the MLBPA and MLB owners are being difficult

Baseball is in a unique situation compared to hockey, basketball and football. They have to plan a full season, not just the conclusion of the regular season and playoffs. Nor do they have five months to prepare for their regularly scheduled opening day. 

MLB's money is tightly intertwined with ticket revenue (40%), understandable considering they have a 162-game season. That money is lost considering the United States is still a ways away from universally allowing fans to attend sporting events. The league claims that each game without fans costs the owners $640,000,

Having a season without fans is not profitable, at least according to the owners. A claim the players do not agree with especially after the MLB agreed to TV rights with Turner for over $3 billion

Players have already given up a portion of their salaries as a part of the March agreement. In addition, not only are they risking their health and safety but the health of their families and other individuals they are in contact with. 

But a big factor are players overwhelmingly not seeing the owners acting in good faith. A report indicates that MLB's stuborness is a part of a stall tactic to reduce the number of games and therefore owed salaries. It is further compounding when another report says at least six owners don't want a season. 

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MLB players are testing positive for COVID-19

To make matters worse, players are testing positive for the coronavirus - as can be expected with the nationwide testing capacity increasing every day - according to an Associated Press report. This could spread further when players return to facilities to train and once games commence.

Unlike the NBA, WNBA and NHL who have a 'bubble site' to prevent the outside risk of coronavirus being exposed to the players, MLB's latest reported are assumed to be at home stadiums.

Surely the MLB will implement some sort of preventative measures, but the risk will be greater in baseball compared to other sports. An issue several players, including Sean Doolittle, have spoken out against

What is more criticized though is the timing of the leak to the media of the players who tested positive. It was right after the players' rebuttal and Manfred's lack of confidence.

Now there's another wrinkle. Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests the MLB not extend the season in October. 

What's next for MLB?

Baseball is a mess. The only person that has the power to mediate relationships is Manfred. The way the commissioner handles this could be the determining factor on how his legacy and reputation be viewed during his tenure.

He could set a 50-game season without discussing terms with the players. He could tell the owners (who he represents) to get in line. He could also continue the parade of sending another proposal to the union and await a response. Canceling the season altogether another option. 

Whatever season-length - if there is one - it's not going to be long. Time is running out and the players need an additional training camp. Each day limits further and further how long a season can go.

The next, and really only, move lies in the hands of Manfred.

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Trea Turner, wife Kristen, announce they're expecting their first child together

Trea Turner, wife Kristen, announce they're expecting their first child together

While the Nationals have yet to fully find their stride in the 2020 season, one of Washington's best players had some exciting news to share on Saturday.

Shortstop Trea Turner posted an Instagram on Saturday morning, sharing with the world that he and his wife are expecting their first child.

"Couldn’t be happier! Excited for the future! " Turner wrote.

Trea and Kristen are expecting the baby in February 2021, according to the post. 

While the baby isn't expected for several months, the couple already had a baby-sized replica Nationals jersey with Turner's name and No. 7 on the back.

On the field, Turner hasn't had the best start to the season. He's hitting just .184 over 38 at-bats with just one home run and two RBIs. However, maybe this exciting news is what he needed to turn his season around.

Congrats to the Turner family!

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Nationals, Sánchez blasted by Orioles in another mediocre performance

Nationals, Sánchez blasted by Orioles in another mediocre performance

WASHINGTON --  The Nationals are 4-6 following a Friday night drubbing by the Baltimore Orioles, a team not expected to be remotely good in 2020.

The season’s fluctuations are under way. The Nationals went 1-4, looked listless and were charged with not having fun. They won three in a row to complete the push for an even record. They lost Max Scherzer and two games since. Friday night was particularly abhorrent. They were smacked 11-0 by an Orioles team which had 19 hits. It could have been worse.

“This is just one of those games where you’ve got to put it behind you as quick as you can and come back tomorrow and regroup and go get ‘em tomorrow,” Davey Martinez said. “This game was about as lopsided as I’ve seen in a long time.”

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Aníbal Sánchez has problems. His ERA is 7.84. It, like the Friday night score, could be worse.

He shrugged off his poor start to open the season. Sánchez was more irritated Friday -- back on the mound 12 days after the first time. When he walked Renato Núñez on a 3-2 pitch which wasn’t close to a strike, he yelled, then left the mound to pace. Pitching coach Paul Menhart came to visit.

Recall last year. Sánchez opened with a 5.91 ERA across April and May. He was much better in the following two months, righting his season and helping the Nationals from their malaise. But time for a course correction this season is limited.

“I think the situation that happened last year was [me] out of routine,” Sánchez said. “This is only something you have to handle no matter what. … This is going to happen this year early in the season. I think when you’re out of routine, it’s really hard to see what’s going on. Right now I can see the difference between the games with fans and no fans and all the kinds of things. A little bit something in your mind. At the end, I think I need to figure out how to control my game in all those situations.”

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Sánchez has made 16.7 percent of his starts (and the team is through the same amount of its season). Only nine remain. Reacting to two starts in normal times is not recommended. However, these are not normal times. Much like the offense -- which failed to score for the first time this season -- Sánchez needs to quickly gather himself. However, Trea Turner doesn’t feel the squeeze is on them yet.

“If we do, it’s just going to snowball on us,” Turner said. “There’s no point to. I think it’s more perspective -- more teams are in the playoffs this year, so you’ve got more room for error. More opportunities to make up ground. That being said, it is a shorter season. We need to take advantage of every game because we’re playing some good ball clubs. They kicked our butts [Friday]. Got to be ready each and every day.”

The Nationals play two more games during the weekend against Baltimore. Austin Voth starts Saturday, Stephen Strasburg returns Sunday. Friday opened a 13-games in 13 days stretch after the jumbled beginning of days off and postponements. Martinez said they were happy to finally be starting what a season traditionally feels like. Day after day, game after game. Time and geography lost to the rhythm of playing.

But, the Nationals entered the game 29th in Major League Baseball in runs, then failed to score. The only team to score fewer is the coronavirus-riddled St. Louis Cardinals who have played five games this season. Their starting staff is yet to anchor them. The bullpen has an injury to its most important offseason signing and Sean Doolittle is ineffective. Fixable problems, but problems to be sure.

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