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The 2020 MLB season is in doubt


An official Rawlings Major League Baseball for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

The picture floating above these words is of a baseball. A Major League Baseball, at that.

The way things are going, looking at that picture might be as close as we actually get to seeing Major League Baseball in 2020.

With labor negotiations for the modified season failing to find any common ground between MLB and the MLBPA, it seems we’re growing further away from optimism about a return to baseball this year by the minute, instead seeing the inevitable Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations that were destined to take place within a year anyway play out now. As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman relayed earlier Wednesday, there is “greater pessimism” about baseball in 2020 now than there ever has been, too.

This comes on the heels of MLB officially rejecting the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114 game season, one that was served to the other side over the weekend. With word that they aren’t going to counter also leaking out, it certainly seems that they’re reaching an impasse at a point so late into calendar year 2020 that squeezing in a season of any kind is becoming a very, very big ‘if.’

In essence, this is what’s being argued about - the players and teams made an initial agreement on the modified season in March, and now the two camps cannot agree upon what they agreed upon. MLB contends that agreement had a clause that would allow them to further modify things should games be forced to be played without revenue-generating fans in stands, while the MLBPA contends that was already baked into the agreement. Said agreement featured the players getting paid on a prorated basis depending on how many games were played, so obviously they’d prefer to play as many games as possible. MLB owners, meanwhile, contend that they stand to lose money on every game played without fans in attendance, so they obviously want either a) a season as short as possible or b) a new revenue-sharing model to mitigate their losses, which players aren’t about to sign off on.

So, there is no gradual walk-back here. Any 2020 season is going to require a major concession from one side, and neither side seems willing to balk. Not to mention that this is merely the financial component of a return to sports, only a mere portion of what’s on the table as the sport tries to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic - one that just saw NPB’s 2019 MVP test positive during early ‘spring training’ action as Japan tries to return to their play.

There still might be baseball in 2020, but it sure feels like it’s as far away now as it’s ever been from a return, even with sports around the globe getting back on the field.