According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball's owners have approved a proposal that would lead to games played in early July without fans. The proposal has been submitted to the MLB Players’ Union and will be presented Tuesday.
The plan would lead to games starting around the Fourth of July to begin the season. Each team would play around 82 regular season games, approximately half a typical season, and games would be limited to a team’s own division plus interleague matchups with the corresponding division. For example, the AL East would only play the NL East, and so on.
If passed, the plan would also expand the postseason from 10 teams to 14, with four wild card teams in each league.
MLB would, according to the Associated Press story, prefer to play games at home ballparks but could switch to spring training sites or even neutral sites, if states do not allow it.
Due to international travel restrictions, the AL and NL East might have to play the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida, the team’s spring training site.
The Orioles, who were recently hit by the news that the MLB Draft will be just five rounds, would face their typical host of AL East foes, as well as the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves. It is unclear what the split will be in terms of inter-division games compared to interleague games.
The new schedule would make for an interesting race, as the Yankees and Rays would be added to the NL East’s plate, and the Braves and Nationals to the AL East’s, but so too would the Orioles and Marlins — projected to be two of the worst teams in the sport in 2020.
Even with the Marlins now in the mix, the Orioles would still almost assuredly be worse-off than any of the nine opponents they’d face with this proposed schedule. Dependent on the point of view, that could be viewed as a positive or a negative.
Baltimore might suffer big losses with playoff contenders on the schedule nearly exclusively, which could make for an ugly slate of summer games, if there are games at all. That could also mean, however, another shot at the top of a 2021 MLB Draft — in whatever capacity a draft next summer happens.
The Orioles, being in the midst of a rebuild, stand to lose a lot if some decisions or outcomes don’t go their way. They also stand to gain perhaps more than anyone else, too.
And while that plan might be a breath of fresh air for a country starved for sporting events, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
The players’ association and owners are expected to engage in “difficult discussions” over the next few days, with a revenue plan the AP called unprecedented.
“These concepts are beyond the spectrum of what players have both fought for and derived from the CBA from inception: salary caps, methodologies like this are something far afield from our working relationship with Major League Baseball,” MLB agent Scott Boras said in the AP story. “You certainly know why they would suggest it.”
The split in revenue, like the situation the MLB has been placed in, is something that’s gone unseen in sport before.
“Teams will propose that players receive the percentage of their 2020 salaries based on a 50-50 split of revenues MLB receives during the regular-season and postseason, which likely will be among the most contentious aspects of the proposal during negotiations with the players’ association,” the AP reported.
The return of baseball, however, is contingent upon various states and how safe they can make mass-gatherings.
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