Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditThursday, February 25, 2021

Articles tagged: MLB

Report: MLBPA backed out of call with government about delaying season

Rob Manfred

The MLBPA is so staunchly opposed to delaying the season — and distrustful of Major League Baseball — that its representatives opted out of a call with government officials about the issue.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, MLBPA declined to take part in a call between the league and Biden administration officials out of fear that they would be pressured into delaying the season. Instead, the union scheduled a separate call with the same officials for a later date.

The government representatives on the call suggested to the league that the season be delayed by one month with the aim of vaccinating players against COVID-19 before the start of play. Players have been staunchly opposed to any sort of delay to the start of the season, arguing that other leagues are playing despite the pandemic and that their efforts to follow health and safety protocols during the 2020 season were largely successful.

In light of the call, MLB had offered the MLBPA a 154-game schedule with a delayed start and full player pay. The union had concerns with certain aspects of the deal, and also felt it came too close to spring training to be feasible. That means that in spite of the government’s recommendation, the MLB season will start on time and is set to feature a full 162-game schedule.

Report: MLB players unlikely to agree to delayed season

Rob Manfred

Once again, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are at odds over the scheduling of the upcoming baseball season. The good news is the outcome of a failed deal appears likely to be much less damaging this time.

Commissioner Rob Manfred proposed a 154-game season that starts a month late. The league believes it has offered a fair compromise for players while reducing health risks, and would at least like to receive a counteroffer from the MLBPA.

Lingering distrust on both sides is making things difficult, however. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the MLBPA has multiple concerns about the proposal. There is concern that language in the proposal could grant Manfred additional power to cancel games and cut into players’ earnings, and there are also worries about pushing back spring training when pitchers have already begun the process of getting physically ready for the scheduled Feb. 17 start date.

Players recognize that a delay could be reasonable, but there is a feeling that the proposal came too late, especially when some players are already in spring training cities with rented housing that would need to be canceled. One player also questioned the necessity of a delay when the NFL, NBA, and NHL are all playing.

The good news is that the drawn-out drama that followed similar disagreements prior to the 2020 season seems less likely to follow. According to Passan, the likeliest scenario if no agreement is reached is that players would report to spring training as currently scheduled. The alternative would be for Manfred to activate the national-emergency clause in the CBA, but that would inevitably lead to a showdown in court, which neither side wants.

No agreement would have other ramifications, though, particularly for rule changes. 2020 saw games played with a number of one-off rule changes, including 7-inning doubleheaders and expanded playoffs. There’s even growing momentum to make some of those changes permanent. Without a deal, though, the league may simply be forced to revert to the old rules until further notice.

MLB makes new proposal for 2021 season schedule

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are working on a new agreement for a 2021 schedule, and the league is proposing a late start to the season.

MLB has proposed a 154-game season that starts a month later than usual, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. The league also wants an expanded postseason, though the union previously rejected that proposal.

Brown notes that players would be paid for an entire season even if only 154 games are played.

MLB and the MLBPA had a lot of trouble reaching an agreement last year for how to schedule their season amid the coronavirus pandemic. They have obviously gotten a much earlier start on negotiations this year. There should also be fewer unknowns, which should help with the discussions.

There has been talk about MLB making some serious changes to its schedule regardless of the pandemic.

Could MLB switch to neutral site World Series for the future?

Rob Manfred

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred liked hosting the World Series at a neutral site so much that he’s willing to consider it for the future.

Manfred said that there are many reasons a neutral site World Series could be beneficial for the teams involved. He did admit, however, that depriving home fans of seeing their teams in the World Series was a significant drawback.

“You should always think about innovation,” Manfred told Eric Prisbell of Sports Business Daily. “I wouldn’t say a neutral-site World Series is completely off the table. There were things that we saw in Texas that were advantages for us. You can plan. You can take out travel. You can pick sites that eliminate weather problems. Those are all things worthy of conversation and discussion. I think the big (weight) on the scale in favor of our traditional format, the thing that really matters at the end of the day, are fans in home markets.”

Manfred is right about the possible benefits. In theory, weather would never be a concern, and teams could cut down on travel. However, many fans of the teams involved wouldn’t be able to simply travel to a neutral site to see their team play. That’s especially true if one of the teams doesn’t play particularly close to the neutral site.

On one hand, the players didn’t seem to mind playing at neutral sites. Plus the games were by and large quite good. There’s no substitute for a packed home crowd in a playoff game, though.

MLB postseason format will be true test of pitching depth

Shane Bieber

The MLB has officially announced its plans for the 2020 postseason, and pitching depth will likely be more important than ever in determining which team is crowned World Series champion.

Expanding the postseason from 10 to 16 teams means more games, and MLB is accommodating that with fewer off days. Perhaps the most notable thing from Tuesday’s playoff schedule reveal is that there will be no off days during the Wild Card Series, Division Series or League Championship Series.

A typical postseason series has days off for travel. That allows teams to use their best starting pitchers (and relievers, for that matter) in more games. In order to do that now, starting pitchers would have to pitch on fewer days rest. A team’s ace would only have three days off between starts if pitching twice in a Division Series.

In the past, a team could rely on three or four starters in the postseason. Now, the team with the most rotation depth may have an advantage over the team with the best ace. It will be interesting to see how that element plays out.

MLB, MLBPA agree to bubble plan for majority of playoffs

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been working on a plan to hold postseason games at neutral-site bubbles, and the two sides are now in agreement.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to play the Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series at neutral sites in a bubble-type environment.

Plans were already in place to expand the playoff field from 10 to 16 teams for this season. Rather than have a one-game Wild Card play-in, the first round will be a best-of-three series. Those series will not be played in bubble sites, with the higher-seeded team hosting them.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post shared some more information about the quarantine plan heading into the postseason.

Previous reports indicated that the American League will likely play its postseason series in Texas with the National League playing somewhere in Southern California. The World Series is expected to be hosted at Globe Life Park, which is the new home of the Texas Rangers. You can read more details of the 2020 postseason format here.

MLB hopes to have fans for playoffs, World Series

Rob Manfred

MLB is hoping to have fans in attendance for some postseason games this year.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke in an online event for Hofstra’s business school on Monday and shared his desires. He said they are hoping to have fans for the League Championship Series games and World Series.

“I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity,” Manfred said, via The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. “I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games.”

Manfred reminded those watching that MLB generates around 40 percent of its revenues from having fans present at games. Ticket sales, parking, concessions and merchandise make up a huge portion of team revenues. Playing without fans is costly for the league. That hurts owners and players, as there is less money available to pay players due to declining revenue. That is why they want to start getting fans back.

The NFL had fans at some games in Week 1, as did college football. For now, the ability to have fans largely depends on the permissions from local cities.

MLB is planning to host its postseason in two different cities for the Division Series and beyond. The Los Angeles area will host the American League and Texas will have the National League. Here is what the MLB playoff format will look like for 2020.

Report: MLB planning ban on champagne celebrations for 2020

Red Sox celebrate

Major League Baseball’s playoff celebrations are going to look different in 2020.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB is finalizing protocols to govern postgame clinching celebrations. One of the directives is expected to be a ban on alcohol in a bid to limit contact and enforce social distancing.

There will be other changes as well. The league will ask players to celebrate on the field instead of in the clubhouse, and to wear masks while doing so. The commemorative hats and t-shirts that are traditionally handed out during the celebration will be shared in a way that limits contact.

MLB can only regulate so much, and the league knows that. There’s not really anything they can do to stop players from hugging or celebrating in the clubhouse. The alcohol ban should be strictly enforceable, though.

Teams typically spend a small fortune on champagne for celebrations. There will be no need for that in 2020. It should create some odd sights in and around clubhouses, though.

Report: MLB proposes ‘Baseball Cup’ involving minor league teams

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are negotiating their future relationship for the 2021 season and beyond. During those negotiations, MLB put forward a proposal that would tie the two together tighter than ever before.

According to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, MLB proposed a “Baseball Cup” that would involve a combination of all MLB and MiLB teams. 150 teams would compete in a single-elimination tournament, with teams from Class A theoretically facing MLB squads.

The idea is inspired by European soccer, where these competitions are common. It’s also similar to the NCAA Tournament minus the selection process.

For now, this is only a proposal. The logistical hurdles that would need to be overcome are massive. MLB teams and players would have to approve the concept. Scheduling of games between the MLB and MiLB seasons would also be a huge challenge.

It’s an interesting idea, though, and shows that MLB may seek closer ties to its minor league affiliates. It could help financially, too, as some MiLB clubs have had to get creative to make money lately.

Report: Multiple MLB teams considering not playing Wednesday

Rob Manfred

Multiple Major League Baseball teams are considering not playing Wednesday night in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake.

The Milwaukee Brewers decided not to play Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers are joining the Milwaukee Bucks in protesting social injustice in light of the shooting, which took place in nearby Kenosha.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, several other teams are considering following suit and refusing to play.

This comes on the heels of the Bucks refusing to play their playoff game Wednesday. That move spread to two other games, with the NBA season now essentially on hold. Now, that form of protest has begun to spread through MLB.