MESA, Arizona — After a conference call with MLB team owners this morning, Commissioner Rob Manfred said that MLB spring training camps won’t be closed and players can still do informal workouts:
“We are not going to start on April 9,” Rob Manfred tells us as he leaves conference call. Says he’s not going to speculate, but he says owners are still hopeful to play a full schedule, unsure how. Limiting informal workouts, not locking camps. Spoke to @stltoday on this matter.— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) March 16, 2020
Manfred was at Cardinals camp in Florida when he had the conference call, which is why Derrick Goold, a Cardinals writer, had this information first.
I don’t see how MLB can play a “full schedule” if they start later than April 9. Right now it would seem the earliest possible start to the 2020 season would be around June 1, which would knock 58 games off the Cubs schedule, for example. There’s simply no way nearly two months’ worth of games can be tacked on after the scheduled end of the season September 27. So, presuming baseball does start at some point in the late spring or early summer, we are looking at a shortened season. How short remains to be seen, but there’s also this information out there:
I’ve heard that July is the earliest being discussed right now. And a real possibility of no fans for the remainder of the season. https://t.co/2ZQXj3ozh3— Trevor Plouffe (@trevorplouffe) March 16, 2020
However, this is good news:
DeWitt tells us that #MLB is going to be making a recommendation to all clubs about how to help compensate game-day and part-time staff. “There are people who will need that help,” DeWitt says. #cardinals https://t.co/tevcc9dSkS— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) March 16, 2020
People on gameday staffs often work two or even three jobs to make ends meet. This is good news. While they’re at it, they can compensate minor leaguers, too. Some teams (Tigers, Blue Jays, among others) have already announced they will be setting up funds to collect money for gameday staffs. Hopefully, team owners will make large contributions to those funds.
There’s more news and information about how baseball is going to proceed during this time when the USA is practicing social isolation due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has some details:
Key points from memo sent by Players Association to agents this morning:— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 16, 2020
1. Transaction/signing freeze under discussion, expected in “very near future.” To be lifted when camps reopen. PA wants to protect players with March opt-out clauses that have been effectively nullified.
2. To cover spring-training living allowances, players who return home or to club’s home city can get up to $1,100 per week through PA until 4/9 or until such a time clubs provide similar. Applies to players on 40-man roster players as of 3/13/20 and certain non-roster invitees.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 16, 2020
3. Talks with MLB continue on host of issues, including: Conditions for resumption of play; amended scheduling; player salaries; service time; contracts and transactions; core economics; amateur signings and potential adjustments for collectively bargained dates and deadlines.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 16, 2020
The third tweet from Rosenthal is key — check out how many things have to be negotiated between the union and team owners. Since this is a “we’re all in this together” situation, not a labor dispute, hopefully the talks will be held on a friendly, collaborative basis. One more note from Rosenthal:
Effectively immediately, MLB is temporarily prohibiting all scouting activity, both domestic and international, a source tells The Athletic. No tryouts, public or private. No attending of amateur games, showcases, workouts. No in-home or in-person visits, or scouting remotely.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 16, 2020
Of course, a lot of those events are being cancelled anyway.
I went over to Cubs camp this morning. Saturday, when I was at the “last tailgate”, the Cubs Store had posted a sign that they’d be open at 10 a.m. today. Thought maybe I could pick up a bargain, as the stores did in Peoria and Goodyear. But there was a sign on the door today saying the store was “closed indefinitely.”
Some fans were hanging around, maybe a couple dozen, perhaps thinking players would be around later to sign autographs. That seems unlikely.
We are, every one of us, in uncharted territory. Here at BCB we’re going to provide some simulations of Cubs games via MLB The Show, to fill your days with some baseball even if it’s not real.
Hang in there. We are all in this together.