Report: MLB, MLB Players Association Set Parameters With Fans & Travel For Returning From Coronavirus Break
MLB on-deck circle
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

When Major League Baseball cancelled remaining Spring Training games and delayed the start of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it was with the initial hope of staging Opening Day on April 9.

That best-case scenario never manifested, as the spread of the coronavirus further impacted MLB and the United States economy as a whole. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled at least through May 10, MLB pushed back Opening Day a second time.

With the season’s original start date passing Thursday, it amounted to more of a pressing need for MLB and the MLB Players Association to reach an agreement on salary, service time issues and the 2020 Draft, among other issues. The players approved a deal Thursday night, and owners unanimously ratified it Friday.

Beyond pay and service time, the agreement additionally set requirements in order for MLB to begin the 2020 season, one of which being the league and union preferring to avoid a scenario of playing without fans in attendance, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

In light of it still remaining unclear when MLB could so much as have players start a second Spring Training, commissioner Rob Manfred ruled out playing a 162-game season this year. That’s even with all parties involved committed to playing as many games as possible and being amenable to doubleheaders and pushing the season into October and possibly November.

As for playing without fans in attendance, that may be required in order for the season to begin, even if it’s not the desired preference. “It does sound very funny,” Ross Stripling told of the possibility.

“Obviously, we’re in the entertainment business and fans, that’s what we get up for. That’s what we’re excited about. A lot of times your body hurts and you’re struggling, and then you got outside and see 40,000 Dodger fans in the stadium and you don’t feel any pain anymore. Your adrenaline takes over and you’re excited.

“It would be very, very different. Obviously not what we want to do, but at the end of the day we do want to get on the field and play baseball. If that’s the only way to do it, then obviously we’re open to it.”

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