Major League Baseball finally appears headed for an abbreviated season, after weeks of bickering between owners and players over salaries and games. Late Monday, MLB owners voted unanimously to proceed with a season under the agreement reached with the players' union back in March, after the season was shut down indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. That agreement allows Commissioner Rob Manfred to set a schedule with the players receiving a prorated amount of their annual salary. The schedule will be for no more than 60 games.
The owners vote came after the players union voted down the owners' offer of a 60-game regular season plus expanded playoffs and a universal designated hitter for both leagues. That means the current playoff format and DH rules will continue. MLB released a statement saying it was "disappointed" the players' union rejected its final offer, but will now move forward with plans for a shortened season. Players have been asked if they can report back to team facilities by July 1 to resume spring training, with the regular season likely to begin in late July. The players also still have to agree to new health and safety protocols due to coronavirus.
But the bickering likely isn't over. Even if/when baseball returns, the players' union can file a grievance against the owners, leading to another legal fight. SportsTalk 790 host Matt Thomas says this ugly process portends more trouble down the road for America's pastime. "This is gonna affect everybody from baseball fans, to prospective major leaguers, to current major leaguers...everybody is going to be affected by this, not only this year but for years to come," he says. "If they don't play now, expect baseball to take a major drop when it comes to popularity in America."