The biggest news story in the world these days is the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. People are quarantining themselves, cities and countries are being practically shut down, and sports leagues around the world are postponing their seasons. Major League Baseball is of course one of those leagues. The big question on the fans’ minds when it comes to the national pastime is when does the season start?
Initially, it was thought that the season would simply not begin until April 15, but now it looks like it may in fact be postponed until Memorial Day weekend. Worse, with a need for a second Spring Training, it could likely be longer than that. Spring Training will have to be restarted and it’s unclear if there will be any restrictions lifted on people gathering in one place. This has led to some alarm on whether the season will even start at all. Is it possible that there won’t be a season?
First of all, assuming that the season will be played how will it look? It’s pretty much a lock that the schedule will have to be reshuffled, more non-divisional games will be removed, and more doubleheader’s scheduled. The All-Star game will likely be cancelled altogether to save time and the season could last until late November. Personally, I would add doubleheaders, remove the all-star weekend and make the schedule have a minimum of inter league games. I’m not going to try to figure out exactly how many games will be played and when exactly it will start, but I expect it to be no later than June.
Will the season be cancelled? That’s one thing that I’m actually sure of… and the answe is no. I just don’t see it happening. Team owners won’t accept losing so much revenue and there will be a major dispute with the players over service time calculations. The owners will want to simply skip a year so that their players play as many years as they were supposed to before free agency, the players will want their clocks to run as normal. The owners will never agree to just give away a year of service time for literally nothing. The players will never agree to give away a year of their lives for nothing. A player who was supposed to hit free agency at 29, won’t accept now hitting it at 30. That seemingly minor difference will affect their pay substantially. Would a couple extra draft picks be enough compensation for teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers who would have traded for Mookie Betts only to see him hit free agency without playing a game for them?
The only solution is to play a season. It may not be a full season and some of the games may be in empty stadiums, but the season will be played and the earliest time for it to begin is Memorial Day weekend.