By Joe Pantorno
Major League Baseball proposed a 154-game regular-season schedule in 2021 that would be delayed by one month and extended by just one week, according to Yahoo’s Tim Brown.
A part of that proposal included an expanded postseason, as first featured last season during MLB’s shortened 60-game campaign. Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times added that the universal designated hitter is also on the table.
That would mean the season would begin in May and finish up in mid-November.
According to Brown, the players’ union (MLBPA) is considering the proposal which offers them as close to a full season with pay as they’ve seen in two years. Ineffective negotiations between the league and union based on player pay was the main reason why the 2020 season was as short as it was.
There were reports in December that the league tabled the idea of delaying the season, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sent a memo to clubs in January telling them to prepare for a 162-game season.
On Jan. 25, however, the Cactus League — the exhibition competition for half the league in Arizona — wrote to Manfred asking to push back the start of spring training by one month to March 15 due to the surge in COVID-19 numbers.
Delaying the season under MLB’s latest proposal is about as beneficial a system as one can come up with when it comes to two sides that have often been entrenched in bitter negotiations.
After the league and its teams lost $3 billion in revenue from having no fans at games during the regular season, pushing things back ensures more time to come up with an effective plan to get spectators back in the seats — whether that means affording more time for the widespread distribution of the COVID vaccine or instituting a fool-proof method for safe spectating for limited attendees.
This has long been the viewpoint of some owners and executives with one National League owner telling amNewYork Metro back in December that it “makes sense.”
“Getting the players vaccinated would simplify the logistics of a season,” he added.
Fans in the ballpark would provide a surge of revenue outside of the television deals and advertisements that MLB so heavily relied on last season. It would also provide another shred of normalcy for sports fans longing to see their favorite teams play live once again.
As for the players, they will receive their full, prorated salaries for all of just eight games, which isn’t much considering they received approximately 37% of their normal pay last year.
A delayed season would also increase the likelihood of MLB instituting a regular season with normal travel plans. Last year forced teams around the league to play their closest geographic opponents. For example, the Mets and Yankees only played each other along with the other teams of the American League East and National League East.