Less than one week after Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred met with Players Association executive director Tony Clark, the sport appears to be on the poise of a return.
However, it is not under the two sides reaching an agreement, but rather through the league setting a schedule. MLB made the announcement Monday night, noting owners unanimously approved Manfred exercising the authority to impose a season.
Before MLB moves forward with that, they asked the union to respond to the feasibility of players reporting for Spring Training 2.0 by July 1, and to reach an agreement on health and safety protocols for the 2020 season. They set a 2 p.m. PT deadline on Tuesday for the response.
The expectation is players will meet the criteria and that will lead to MLB impose a 60-game season, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
Based on conversations with a number of players, there is a strong expectation the MLBPA will vote yes on MLB's proposed July 1 report date, codify the health-and-safety protocol (with some slight tweaks) and lock in a 60-game season that begins around July 24, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 23, 2020
As the league and union have remained at odds over an economic plan for the 2020 season, Manfred recently said the two sides were close to finalizing health and safety protocols. MLB presented the MLBPA with a 67-page document that outlined suggested changes, and approved most of the feedback they received from players.
Nonetheless, multiple Los Angeles Dodgers teammates expressed some concern over new rules that are likely forthcoming, such as banning high fives.
“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 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.”
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