Will the 2020 MLB Season Happen?
♫ Money money money money….monnnnneeyyy ♫
With state and local governments planning the lifting of restrictions, an issue that’s come up is if the 2020 MLB season will happen.
It’s no mistake or coincidence, either. The National Football League, National Hockey League, and National Basketball Association1 all are either on track for a full season or have announced plans for a return to play. When it comes to football, they are far enough in the future (Fall) that they feel they can make it work with few or no changes. Hockey and basketball suspended mid-season but are determined to wrap up play and award a championship. This leaves out the national pastime, who have not only announced nothing, but have had their messy dispute over money play out in the media.
Nothing short of a major embarrassment for the game, Major League Baseball does not seem to be making any progress. With that said, is there going to be a season in 2020?
Why the 2020 MLB Season Will Happen
When a lot of these players were just children, Major League Baseball’s players went on strike mid-season and a World Series got cancelled. Like with the NHL bagging an entire season in the 2000s because of a financial dispute, it did enormous harm to the game. One might argue the NHL still has not fully recovered from that 15 years later. As for baseball, it took a steroid-tainted home run chase in 1998 to recapture the American public.
MLB in 1994 and the NHL in 2004 gave themselves the ol’ SMU “death penalty.” The fans may come back if you do it once, but will they come back if you do it a second time? Those that remember the 1994 strike may not. We, The Bracket Yard, might not come back if they do. One would think that all parties involved are intelligent enough to know that you have to get some fair considerations out of this, but that they would be inflicting major damage on their own sport if they wipe the 2020 season. They would become the sole Big Four league to cancel their modern championship twice, and for the same reason both times.
New York Yankees TV announcer Michael Kay roasted the league for their avarice.2 Cincinnati Reds announcer Thom Brennaman said it would be the league’s “ultimate suicide” if this is how the 2020 MLB season gets canned.3 You think the players and owners don’t hear these criticisms? Pandemic or not, the optics are still negative.
They are also aware that the rest of the Big Four leagues are deep into plotting their returns in 2020. Ownership and players know they would be testing the resolve of fans to come back. Many of the die-hards will, but the casual fans will move on directly to football and forget why they watched in the first place. Logic suggests that with all of that weighing on them, both sides know they have to figure it out and soon.
Why the 2020 MLB Season Will Not Happen
This group appears to have learned nothing, and that applies to both the owners and the players’ union. Several deadlines have been missed and neither side appears interested in making tangible progress. They are well aware of what cancelling the season will do to the game, but nobody seems to have a sense of urgency with days passing and no new proposals or meetings of the minds. It looks especially bad compared to the other Big Four leagues, who made it work without a lot of public back-and-forth.
There are those like noted baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian who think there will not be a 2020 season.4 We see definite pessimism surrounding the proceedings with the latest round of rejected offers. Indeed, at the time of this writing, it is early June, and baseball operations are at a halt.
We should be about 60-70 games into the season, and there is only so much calendar you have in order to bang in a schedule of even 80 games. Frequent doubleheaders are a possible remedy, but even at that, if you keep sitting on your thumbs, you still run out of calendar. Another few weeks of this and time will prove to be an enemy. At that point, the recriminations would begin (“it’s the owners’ fault,” “blame the players) but the outcome would be the same: no baseball. Besides, it’s not like this league hasn’t done this before, so even though it is a bad look, neither side seems willing to cave.
Polls Are Open
MLB Season: References
1: Sam Quinn & Jasmyn Wimbish, “NBPA approves plan to resume NBA season at Disney World, sets plan for coronavirus testing,” CBS Sports, June 6, 2020, CBS Sports Link)
2: Randy Miller, “Michael Kay torches MLB players, owners in epic rant,” NJ.com, June 6, 2020, NJ.com Link)
3: Dave Clark, “Thom Brennaman: 2020 MLB season canceled because of money would be ‘ultimate suicide’,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 4, 2020, Cincinnati.com Link)
4: Jesse Pantuosco, “Tim Kurkjian on MLB: ‘I Don’t Think We’re Going to Play This Year’,” Radio.com, June 5, 2020, Radio.com Link)