SPORTS-BBO-MLB-SEASON-GET

Dodger Stadium is viewed on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball's opening day, now postponed due to the coronavirus, on March 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/TNS)

The latest on the 2020 MLB season, for those who missed it, isn't much different than what has been floating around for a couple weeks.

The season, according to reports, would begin in early July with an early- to mid-June spring redux. Teams would play 82 games, down from the initial reporting, but still play against their division and their geographical counterparts in the other league.

Travel is reduced that way.

All of the above plus other considerations were approved Monday by the 30 team owners before being sent to the MLB Players Association, which is expected to reject the proposal over compensation.

The sides will have to negotiate financial terms for the rest of the season before agreeing to take the field. That has taken an interesting twist.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic that delayed the season will carry the deciding vote. If MLB can't ethically obtain enough testing or if COVID-19 cases begin to pile up again, the season could be in serious jeopardy of being canceled.

___

STARTING OFF

If July 1 is the new Opening Day, teams will need two or three weeks to get ready.

They won't have a full-blown spring training, as camp was cut off with 10 days remaining. Rosters would be expanded, and more players would be kept at the ready.

Pitchers have been doing their best to keep their arms active, but not too active, and position players have been working out across the country.

The latest reports have suggested teams will hold spring training in their home cities where possible rather than all teams flocking back to Arizona and Florida, even though there would be logistical issues.

All 30 teams are basically in the same place in terms of readiness. No final rosters have been set. Some teams had the luxury of seeing injured players come back to full strength, and the Texas Rangers are one of them.

Willie Calhoun's broken jaw has healed, and he can be penciled back into the Opening Day lineup.

___

A HALF-SEASON?

An 82-game season could be expanded by playing doubleheaders, taking fewer off days and stretching the regular season deep into October, and playing more games appears to be on the table.

Doing so could potentially allow a limited number of fans into some late-season games.

Of course, weather becomes an issue for many teams once October hits. And if the postseason, which MLB wants to expand by an extra round, stretches into November, well, yikes.

Then again, if there aren't any fans, neutral sites can be used in November. That leaves open the possibility that the Rangers aren't the first team to play a postseason game at Globe Life Field.

___

PLAYING AT HOME

The proposal reportedly calls for games to be played in teams' home ballparks, which allows players to be around their families from the start of the season rather than sequestered to one, two or a handful of locations with no guarantees that their families could join them.

The Arizona Plan and Three State Plan are no longer seen as viable options.

Teams will still travel, albeit to only nine other cities _ the four in their divisions and the five in the same geographical division in the other league. The Rangers would still travel to Anaheim, Houston, Oakland and Seattle, but would also add the NL West clubs; Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco.

The California teams and Seattle, though, might not be permitted to play at home by the state and local ordinances. Other teams could be in the same situation.

Will the Mets and Yankees, for instance, have to open the season on the road until New York is safe?

___

UNIVERSAL DH

Baseball seems to be moving in this direction, and the pandemic-shortened season might give them a chance to do it.

Half of the games teams will play under the current proposal are against the other league. Going back and forth with pitchers hitting or not hitting is unfair to designated hitters and American League offenses.

Take Shin-Soo Choo, for instance. Once again, he is expected to be the Rangers' DH, and he is one of their top hitters. He would be a part-time player without the universal DH, or Joey Gallo would be a full-time center fielder vs. NL teams and Choo the right fielder.

The Rangers don't want either, and other AL teams don't want to face similar quandaries.

Wouldn't the change be unfair to the NL teams? Consider the 2019 World Series, when the champion Washington Nationals of the National League won all four of their road games with the DH and lost all three of their home games with the pitchers hitting.

___

MONEY TALKS

The owners and the union agreed in late March on how players would be compensated during the first two months of the season. Currently, $170 million is being chopped up by players on the 40-man roster, and all players will receive a year's worth of service time.

Players also agreed to receive prorated salary for the rest of the season. That agreement expires at the end of May.

The players believe that the terms of that agreement are valid going forward, but the owners say further reductions in player pay are necessary because of the loss in ticket revenue. The union has already scoffed at that notion. The owners' reported solution: Sharing 48% of their revenue with the players.

But every player is different. Take Choo, the Rangers' highest-paid player at $21 million, and Calhoun, who makes the league minimum of $563,500.

Both just want to play. Choo, though, wants to play because he is at the end of his career and has goals still to accomplish. He doesn't need the money and won't make much fuss if he makes, say, only $8 million this season.

Calhoun has never played a full big-league season. He's not hurting financially, not with some 33 million Americans suddenly unemployed, but he and others who aren't yet eligible for salary arbitration aren't sleeping on beds of cash.

Something will give, but the union wants to protect the young players just as much as, if not more than, the established ones.

___

STAYING HEALTHY

Players aren't robots. They get hurt, which everyone has seen, but they also get sick. Some of them have underlying health conditions, which makes them more at-risk for COVID-19.

They also have wives, children and other relatives whose health the players don't want to jeopardize by possibly exposing themselves to coronavirus. The families also don't want to see the men in their lives become ill.

So, players are going to want to have assurances that their safety is a top consideration, perhaps even more so than playing the game they love and how they are compensated.

What will travel look like? How clean will ballparks and clubhouses be? How frequently will players and team personnel be tested? What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

MLB needs to be able to answer all of those questions.

___

(c)2020 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Recommended for you