Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Earlier on Monday, we wrote about the likely steps that MLB and the Players' Association will take in the coming days, weeks and months to attempt a return.
The most dramatic element of the process evolved over the past two weeks, when the league turned away from the type of semi-quarantine situation that Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health officials tentatively approved (the "Arizona plan"), and toward the goal of playing in home ballparks.
As expected, the league is now asking the union to consider a proposal for regional travel in an approximately 80-game schedule.
SNY reported that two of the reasons for this change were the ability to salvage sponsorship revenue from in-stadium advertising and signage and offer the Major League-level amenities -- everything from high-speed cameras mounted in the outfield to trainers' rooms -- to players and support staff.
Other reasons include:
- Spring training ballparks are not equipped for instant replay.
- Players are concerned about the hot temperatures in Arizona and Florida.
- Many players did not want to be separated from their families.
- The league wants to televise games in multiple time zones.
Despite a profound disagreement on money, we will be shocked if the sides fail to reach an agreement that involves pay cuts for players. Leaks suggesting otherwise feel like a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
One high-ranking executive for an American League team said that if players do not accept pay cuts now, teams will simply pass along losses over the next few years. Clubs will cut player payroll and spend less on free agency. They will seek aggressive concessions in the 2021 CBA negotiations.
Both the industry and team owners are taking massive losses during this shutdown. They will pass some of those losses along to players, period. Players rightly argue that they are assuming the health risks; they will likely be displeased with what owners offer -- but most of them do want to play and earn a living.
About those health risks: One team executive offered a more optimistic path than the one we laid out Monday morning. As that exec understands it, the sport will not necessarily need to shut down if a player tests positive.
He laid out this scenario: Let's say Roy Hobbs of the New York Knights has coronavirus. Hobbs would be isolated, and the entire team would immediately be tested.
Any players found to have the virus would also be isolated and replaced by a member of the team's large taxi squad (it's expected that each team will have as many as 50 players available, between the active roster and taxi squad). Players who do not test positive would continue to play.
There are so many scenarios not covered by this. What if an elderly coach or player with a compromised immune system contracts the disease?
The Players Association will seek answers to these and many more health-related questions in the coming days.
Then, they will reach an agreement and begin spring training next month.