After their latest proposal was rejected by the Players Association, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred moved forward to implement a 60-game regular season, pending the two sides agree on a start date for Spring Training 2.0 and health and safety protocols.
Those assurances have since been given by the union, and now, players will be reporting to camp by July 1. Three weeks of organized workouts and exhibition games will lead in to Opening Day, set for July 23 for some clubs. All teams will then be on the field July 24.
Because a 2020 season was imposed by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, certain components of a framework previously discussed by team owners and the MLBPA will no longer be coming to the sport.
Most notably, a universal designated hitter is only guaranteed to be in place for this season, rather than both 2020 and 2021. An expanded postseason format was also nixed, which would have undoubtedly benefitted both sides.
As it stands, only 10 teams will qualify for the playoffs this year instead of the rumored 16. But MLBPA executive director Tony Clark revealed he is open to renegotiating with the league to increase the field, via Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:
“I would simply say that if there’s interest to discuss something, I’ll be available to discuss it,” Clark said.
An expanded postseason format, which would have been implemented for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons if an agreement was reached, seemed like a no-brainer for both sides.
By expanding the postseason field and converting the Wild Card round to a best-of-three series, MLB would have been in position to sell additional playoff TV rights. That revenue could have helped the league offset losses from playing games without any fans -— or only with a reduced capacity.
For those reasons, it would behoove MLB to reopen talks with the union and attempt to expand the postseason field this year. The union, in return, could ask that players receive a larger share of the playoff pool.
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