Yes, I know. I have been beating this drum for some time, and I’m not going to stop because I believe it would be best for everyone — players, coaches, staff, fans, everyone involved in the game — to push back the start of the 2021 MLB season by a few weeks.
Sunday, Buster Olney of ESPN posted this column in which this suggestion was made:
One high-ranking team official suggested the other day that everyone — everyone — would be best served if the start of spring training was delayed by a month.
One player agent chimed in: “It makes too much sense not to seriously think about it.”
Here’s an offer from MLB to the players that actually does make a lot of sense:
MLB on Friday proposed to the union a 154-game schedule with full pay, delayed by a month and extended by a week, sources say. Also, with expanded postseason. Union considering.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 31, 2021
I can’t see why the players wouldn’t take this offer. They would be asked to play fewer games with full pay? Why not? An expanded postseason would make more money for owners. On the other hand:
To be very clear, if the season were to go 154 games, and there's no real guarantee of that, then the players would be paid in full. Also, you may recall, the union already has rejected expanded postseason. https://t.co/4oUGW8USch— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 31, 2021
However, the players rejected the expanded postseason because it was being tied in with the universal DH, which players feel should be a separate issue. If an expanded postseason is given with the promise of full pay, I don’t see why players would be against it.
With a proposal like this, you would very likely see some doubleheaders scheduled with seven-inning games, since with basic math:
- A month’s delay means having to reschedule about 28-30 games, depending on the team
- A 154-game season cuts eight games off that schedule, so maybe 20-22 need to be rescheduled
- Extending the season by a week would allow seven of those 20-22 to be played, so now you’ve only got 13-15 games you need to reschedule
Those could be scattered through the season, with seven-inning games played. 13-15 seven-inning games would also mean around 25-30 fewer innings in those games, with 72 or so fewer innings from the shortened 154-game schedule. That would mean perhaps as many as 100 fewer innings per team, meaning less pressure on pitching staffs.
There’s another good reason for owners to want to do this, per Olney’s article:
The longer this season plays out, the more likely it is that at least some potential ticket buyers will feel more comfortable sitting among big crowds, as the vaccinations take hold and the local health and safety protocols are loosened. If the administration’s hopes are realized and the vast majority of U.S. residents get a needle in the arm by early in the fall, then some fans might actually be able to have the experiences they could not have in 2020 — an afternoon or evening at a ballpark.
This is true. It is almost 100 percent certain, in my view, that fans wouldn’t be allowed in Wrigley Field (or on the South Side) in April, and that might be the case in some other MLB cities. By May? Maybe by May, a small percentage could be allowed, and by later in the summer, larger capacities. Delaying the season a month also eliminates playing in cold, wet weather in many northern cities (including Chicago) in April, which often leads to multiple postponements.
This seems like an excellent proposal from owners to players, and I hope the players accept it.
MLB’s new proposal to players to delay the season a month, play 154 games, extend it by a week and have an expanded postseason...
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