Thursday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported that MLB appears to be leaning toward allowing local governments to decide whether fans will be allowed in stadiums this year:
According to two major league sources Thursday, the league is inclined to allow local and municipal governance to take precedence when it comes to allowing fan attendance at games.
On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas-based teams could now allow attendance up to 50% of stadium capacity. The announcement was an expansion of the state’s previous policy of 25%, which had been in effect for two weeks, but had not yet been tested by any league. All plans would also be subject to change based on health and safety protocols.
This seems problematic for a number of reasons, the first being how do you prevent COVID-19 from being spread in a ballpark where (potentially) 20,000 people could gather? Second, it would provide a competitive advantage, possibly, to teams who have fans cheering for them, as players have frequently said their energy feeds off fans. There will be localities — and Chicago is likely one of them — where no fans will be allowed in 2020.
Lastly, what if players balk at playing in front of (potentially) 20,000 carriers of COVID-19?
This is something that might change going forward, especially if a second wave of COVID-19 hits various parts of the country this summer.
Also Thursday, we learned:
All MLB announcers( TV and radio) have been told they will be doing all 2020 road games from a local broadcast studio or home ballpark with monitors as their guide.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) June 4, 2020
Instant reaction to that: Why would announcers have been told that unless we were going to have some sort of season? Of course, that’s not definitive, it’s just my feeling, and certainly it’s possible that this is just a “cover all your bases” type of thing.
But the timing seems as if we are tilting more in the direction of having a season than not.
Now, on to the results of the SB Nation Reacts survey.
The clock is ticking on a MLB return in time for the 2020 season. At this time, the pendulum seems to swing back and forth daily on whether owners and players can come to an agreement to start the season.
The majority of fans who responded, 66 percent, said they are on the players’ side of negotiations. On top of that, only 22 percent say players are being unreasonable in their requests, as opposed to 36 percent who said the same about owners.
Despite the show of support, many fans seem to be all right with players giving up a sizable amount of money in order to make an agreement.
When asked what was a reasonable amount of money for the players to give up, 54 percent of responders said they would be okay with players giving up at least 30 percent of their normal contracts. Breaking that down further, 29 percent said they would be okay with cuts of 40 percent of salaries.
Fans surveyed are also aware of the timing issues facing the league. 58 percent of fans think the league will still start by early July — a drop from 69 percent three weeks ago. That timeline would allow at least an 80-game season, but the time frame for doing that is growing very short.
At the same time, the majority of fans believe players will need two to three weeks to get ready for the start of the season. Which would mean both sides would need to come to an agreement and get back to work in roughly the next week.
For now, both sides appear far from an agreement. Ownership denied the players’ proposal for a 114-game season earlier this week and say they won’t counteroffer. Players, meanwhile, say they won’t take further pay cuts and issued this statement:
From the linked article above, here is how one player agent characterized the current situation:
“If they want to unilaterally impose this bastard season, then so be it,” the agent said. “And that will be what’s expected. By doing that, they are galvanizing the union. The problem here is distrust. If this was a marriage, it would be a divorce. The union has been attacked. The players don’t like it.
“I’ve never seen a negotiation like this in anything in my life. ‘Negotiation’ is a very generous term. It’s like a spit-wad contest.”
That’s... not good in any way, shape or form.
Hopefully owners do make some sort of counteroffer, and soon. If we have no baseball season, or a ridiculously shortened season like 50 games, it’s on them.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.