By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
It won’t be the insane sprint of the 2020 60-game season, but Major League Baseball could be in for another condensed year in 2021. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the owners and players are at odds over how best to move forward, with uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine have put the scheduled starts of spring training and Opening Day in question.
“Major League Baseball executives and owners, wanting players to be vaccinated before arriving to spring training, would like the 2021 season to be delayed until May,” Nightengale writes. “Even if it means shortening the season to 140 or fewer games.”
Meanwhile, the Players Association believes a 162-game schedule is doable in 2021. “The Major League Baseball Players Association, believing it proved a year ago that teams can safely adapt to protocols, wants the season to start on time, playing all 162 games with full pay,” according to Nightengale.
With each of the 30 teams having about 120 people involved in Spring Training, it’s hard to imagine everybody involved could be vaccinated in time for Spring Training to start in early February. Rob Manfred and the league office will also no doubt take into account how vaccinations play out among the general public, in order to open ballparks to fans and recoup some of the estimated $3 billion lost last season.
Complicating things further is the current CBA, which expires after the 2021 season. MLB and the MLBPA had their fair share of differences -to put it lightly – negotiating the COVID agreement for last season. Now faced with more tough decisions, how will the relationship between both sides look as they try to avoid a work stoppage a year from now.
As it stands now, pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report as early as February 17, giving the league a 62-day window to settle on the logistics of a full 162-game season. If they can’t, it sounds like baseball could be delayed for the second year in a row.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.