The Major League Baseball Players Association is rejecting the idea of delaying the start of the 2021 MLB season after team owners expressed skepticism that a full slate of games could be played in a USA Today piece.
“I don’t see a snowball’s chance in hell that spring training can start with protocols in place,’’ a National League owner told USA Today. “I think there will be significant pressure for players to get the vaccine first before they go to spring training, and if that has to be moved back to April and play 130 games, so be it.”
Though the idea of all MLB players being vaccinated prior to the start of spring training is nice, it is likely not realistic. It also may just be a cover for owners wanting to play fewer games because it is not as profitable (if at all) to play games without fans in the stands. Playing fewer games also means less salary that needs to be paid out to players by owners.
Following the release of the piece, Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA’s senior director of collective bargaining and legal, pushed back on the idea of delaying the start of the season.
“We’ve seen anonymous quotes attributed to club sources casting doubt on the start date and length of the season,” Meyer told The Athletic. “To be clear, and as we’ve made clear to the league, players are planning on showing up for spring training on time for a full 162-game season as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and the league’s previously issued schedule.”
In addition to the length of schedule, health protocols and money, the baseball and the MLBPA have yet to decide on keeping the designated hitter in the National League and once again having expanded playoffs in 2021.
In a somewhat related story, Scott Boras, baseball’s most prominent agent, suggested MLB owners should hire a CEO to help make baseball more popular and allow commissioner Rob Manfred to focus on governing the sport.
“It’s very hard to have a focused dialogue about entrepreneurial aspects of going forward when the real focus of that entity has the monstrous job of legislating the game,” Boras said.