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#pounditFriday, April 16, 2021

Articles tagged: MLB

MLB could shut down the season if coronavirus management does not improve

Rob Manfred

MLB could end up shutting down the 2020 season if their management of the coronavirus does not improve, according to a report.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan published an article on Friday in which he said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had a call with Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB Players Association, about the situation. The message from Manfred was that this weekend is critical and if things get worse, the league could be in danger of being shut down.

The coronavirus outbreak among the Miami Marlins has been troubling for the sport, as 18 players and two coaches have tested positive for the virus. The team played on Sunday despite having positive tests, though they have not played since then. The St. Louis Cardinals also had two positive tests on Friday, leading to the postponement of their games.

Passan says state and local government officials have pushed MLB about not taking coronavirus protocols seriously enough, such as players spitting and not wearing masks.

Unlike the NHL and NBA which created “bubble” environments featuring strict daily testing and a lack of travel, MLB allowed teams to operate out of their home cities, be on their own when not at the park, and to travel from city-to-city. The lack of a bubble leaves more chances for players and coaches to be exposed to the virus, which has put the whole operation in jeopardy. MLB was originally considering a bubble situation, but some players balked at the idea, and many top players were opposed to it. The alternative has been this traveling situation, which has resulted in serious problems.

MLB teams now required to have coronavirus compliance officers

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball is making some updates to its coronavirus policy in the wake of the Miami Marlins’ outbreak, and one of them involves having a designated person who will remain with the team to assure all health and safety protocols are being followed.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that MLB has informed all teams they must have a coronavirus compliance officer who will travel with the team and assure all proper measures are being taken. Those measures include mandating the use of surgical masks rather than cloth face coverings. Players have also been encouraged to not travel outside of their hotels on road trips except for games.

MLB is also looking into ways to strengthen its contact tracing program. While the coronavirus outlines are a 113-page document, the league has not specifically addressed how another outbreak like the one the Marlins experienced would be handled. That is intentional, according to Passan, as league officials want to maintain the ability to be flexible.

The outbreak with the Marlins has led to several games being postponed, and the MLB Players Association is seeking several significant rule changes to protect players going forward.

Report: MLBPA pushing for rule changes to protect player health

MLB logo

The MLBPA is reportedly pushing players to accept new health regulations to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19.

According to Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic, the union has suggested to players that they accept certain rules changes to protect their health. That includes shortening one or both games of possible doubleheaders, as well as possibly extending the rule allowing for a 30-man roster limit.

As it stands, the 30-man roster limit is set to be reduced after the first two weeks of the season.

The union’s stance comes in light of an outbreak that has impacted the Miami Marlins, with 16 players testing positive as of Wednesday afternoon. That has forced the postponement of all their games through at least Sunday.

Rob Manfred shares circumstances under which he would pause a team’s season

Rob Manfred

MLB is not planning to cancel its season despite a coronavirus outbreak among the Miami Marlins. So far, the league postponed games between the Marlins and Orioles, and between the Phillies (the team that previously faced Miami) and Yankees. They’re planning to try working through the matter rather than just shut everything down completely.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has shared the circumstances under which he would decide to pause a team’s season, though.

“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive,” would be the circumstance, Manfred said on Monday.

The commissioner said he believes the league can still keep players safe and says they remain optimistic.

“We expected we were going to have positives at some point in time. I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to play even through an outbreak like this and complete our season,” Manfred said.

Tuesday’s Marlins-Orioles game has also been postponed. The league is awaiting the results of coronavirus testing for the Marlins and Phillies to determine what their next step will be. They are expecting to have test results later on Monday night and to give an update on the situation on Tuesday.

For now, the plan is for the Marlins and Orioles to play in Baltimore on Wednesday. The 13 members of the Marlins who tested positive for the coronavirus are quarantining in Philadelphia, where they were for a 3-game series that ended on Sunday. The league has no plans to cancel the season.

MLB playoff format for 2020 season revealed

Rob Manfred

Details on the playoff format for the 2020 MLB season have been released.

In order to give more chances to teams due to the short season, MLB owners have agreed to expand the playoffs for this year to 16 teams. That has resulted in a new playoff format and criteria for who makes the postseason.

Here is how the playoff teams will be determined:

– The top two teams in each division will make the playoffs (six per league)
– The two teams with the best records in their league that did not finish in the top two of their division will also make the playoffs (two per league)

That gives us eight teams per league to make the postseason this year.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, here is how playoff seeding will be determined:

– 1-3 will be the division winners, seeded based on record
– 4-6 will be the second-place finishers per division, seeded based on record
– 7-8 will be the best records among non-first or second-place division finishers, seeded based on record

And here is how many games will be played in each round.

– The first round of the playoffs will be a best of 3, all games at the home park of the top 4 seeds
– The second round will be a best of 5 – the division series
– The third round will be a best of 7 – the league championship series
– The final round will be a best of 7 – the World Series

Purists will not like many aspects of the 2020 MLB season, but this is giving the league the opportunity to experiment with many concepts they’ve considered over the years, including the expanded playoff, and a controversial extra innings rule.

MLB, MLBPA agree to 16-team playoff for 2020 season

Rob Manfred

The MLB regular season has been reduced dramatically to just 60 games this season, but there will be more playoff baseball than ever before.

The MLB Players Association on Thursday approved a proposal from the league that will expand the postseason field from 10 teams to 16 for 2020, as first reported by ESPN’s Marly Rivera. Part of the proposal called for the top three seeds in the National League and American League to pick their opponents from the five other teams as part of a selection show that will be televised.

The current playoff format features 10 teams with a one-game Wild Card play-in. That is expected to be scrapped for this season, with four full rounds being played. Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the first round will be a best-of-three series.

With the best-case scenario being limited fan capacity at ballparks at some point during the season, MLB is trying to generate as much fan interest and TV viewership as possible. Expanding the playoff field should accomplish that goal, and it’s an idea that the league will likely consider sticking with going forward.

While the 2020 season is going to look much different, at least one MLB star believes this year’s World Series trophy should mean even more to whichever team wins it.

Report: MLB, MLBPA discussing expanded playoffs again for 2020

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball’s hopes of expanding the playoff field in 2020 may still be alive.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, MLB and the MLBPA are in discussions about expanding the playoff field to 16, and there is “optimism” that an agreement can be reached.

The expanded playoff field was something the league wanted due to the increased revenue a larger postseason would bring. While players weren’t explicitly opposed, it was seen as a bargaining chip during labor negotiations, and ultimately omitted when the two sides failed to reach a mutual agreement on how to play the 2020 season.

Adding six spots to the playoff field on the eve of Opening Day would be a huge shift, but would undoubtedly make the season more interesting and perhaps attract some added interest from fans. It will be intriguing to see if this can get done.

MLB could allow fans at games during season if conditions improve

Rob Manfred

The Major League Baseball season will begin without fans in the stands, but if the circumstances of the pandemic change, the league is open to adapting.

In a conference call with Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), MLB senior vice president Patrick Houlihan said the league is open to changing its stance on fans in the stands if conditions improve before the end of the season. Any changes would be considered on a team-by-team basis.

Some MLB teams initially explored the possibility of playing with fans at the start of the season, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t a feasible option. However, things do change, and we don’t know how things will look in September or October. MLB is simply leaving the door open to possible changes without promising anything.

In the meantime, MLB will be piping in simulated crowd noise to stadiums during games, much to the chagrin of some players.

MLB exec says negotiations with MLBPA were ‘not good for baseball’

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association had a highly publicized dispute before a 60-game season was implemented, and apparently the tension between the two sides was not exaggerated in the media.

San Diego Padres chairman and co-owner Ron Fowler told Ben Higgins and Steven Woods on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego on Friday that the negotiations were “not good for baseball.” He said the two sides couldn’t agree on a single issue.

“We couldn’t find common ground, literally, on anything,” Padres chairman and co-owner Ron Fowler said. “And the perception was that billionaires and millionaires were, for lack of a better word, urinating on one another.

“It was ugly on the inside. It was even uglier on the outside. Nobody took anybody on face value when things were said, and it deteriorated into something that was not good for baseball.”

Both the NBA and NHL were able to come to agreements on health and safety protocols and compensation seemingly without much hassle. The NFL also appears to be making solid progress with training camp beginning next week.

Saying negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA were ugly would be an understatement. After weeks of finger-pointing and smear attempts through the media, commissioner Rob Manfred eventually had to implement a 60-game season without an agreement in place. Both sides felt the other was not negotiating in good faith, which gives you an idea of where the relationship between the league and the union stands. Fowler’s comments merely confirmed what we already knew.

Report: MLB has not yet finalized new sign-stealing rules

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been working on a number of issues related to electronic sign-stealing in the wake of the massive scandal with the Houston Astros. With the start of the 2020 season just days away, those discussions remain ongoing.

Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports that MLB and the MLBPA have yet to finalize new regulations for electronic sign-stealing, in-game video usage and potential disciplinary action. There are some rules in place that will have been made clear to teams and players by Thursday’s opener, but a number of issues remain.

One thing that has been made clear is that any players, coaches and staff members that have been designated as “Tier 1” will not be allowed to access video replay rooms during games. That rule is in place as part of the league’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but it could also be a factor with sign-stealing. Video replay rooms have been used in an attempt to steal signs during games, which the Boston Red Sox did on a far smaller scale than the Astros.

Several MLB players have expressed to the league that they believe having in-game video is important, as it allows hitters to review at-bats during games and make adjustments. MLB has a partnership with Apple this season that will give players and staff iPads to review video, but as of now the league is not planning to allow players to use the iPads to review at-bats from the same game in which they are playing.

Everything we know about the Astros cheating scandal proves it was an obvious violation of MLB’s rules, but it did highlight the need for the league to clarify some things. Ideally, the updated rules will be in place by Thursday. Adjustments could be made during the season if that doesn’t happen.