After missing the mark to potentially hold Opening Day on the Fourth of July, Major League Baseball and the Players Association remained committed to exchanging counterproposals for a 2020 regular season plan.
The process has been considered more of a standoff than actual, productive negotiations. They seemingly came to an end over the weekend when the MLBPA rejected the latest offer from the league ahead of a Sunday deadline set by team owners.
With both MLB and the union issuing critical statements in the aftermath of another proposal not being enough to bridge the gap, commissioner Rob Manfred was widely expected to unilaterally impose a shortened season.
However, before he can take that step, MLB and the MLBPA must first reach an agreement on health and safety protocols, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports:
The #MLB conference call with owners has ended. The two sides still have to negotiate safety and health protocols before a determination is made on the length of the season
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 15, 2020
When the union was awaiting a proposal from the league for the 2020 season, they first received a 67-page document that outlined various guidelines. Among the more notable changes presented was eliminating high-fives and players not being permitted to shower at stadiums.
“I just hope they can figure out a way where we can at least elbow dab or something. I need some encouragement from the guys,” Clayton Kershaw said during a recent Los Angeles Dodgers Zoom party.
“Everybody knows I like to get a firm fist-bump, so I need something. I think I could maybe do away with spitting, but I think most guys would say they couldn’t do that. We’re going to need to figure it out.”
Justin Turner added: “It’s tough, because there’s so many little nuances in the game of baseball. I think teammates enjoy celebrating during the game and a lot of that is by high-fiving or a nice pat on the butt when a guy walks by and you say, ‘Nice play.’
“To not have that anymore, there’s going to have to be new creative ways to celebrate those moments. One thing about baseball that’s cool is the pregame handshakes. We’re going to have to do something else for that, too. Maybe Kersh will just do a lot more dancing up and down the dugout.
The Players Association provided feedback on the protocols, which the league was said to have approved or given more information on. Manfred also recently indicated the two sides were not far apart on agreeing to health and safety changes for 2020.
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