Will We See Professional Baseball in 2020?

Will We See Professional Baseball in 2020?

Nothing has been the same in the world of sports since March 11, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Early in that afternoon, the hot topic was the fact that the NCAA would be playing its tournament without fans. While this decision was initially unpopular, it quickly became secondary news to what would rock the American sports landscape later that evening.

Within mere hours of the disappointment setting in of watching March Madness without any fans in attendance, the news broke that the first American athlete had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Utah Jazz PF Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 seconds before his team’s game was set to tip-off in Oklahoma City, against the Thunder. This prompted the immediate suspension of the NBA season, as well as the NHL and other prominent sports leagues in the United States.

Utah Jazz team doctors and NBA officials meet prior to the March 11, 2020 contest between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. Jazz PF Rudy Gobert and G Donovan Mitchell both tested positive for COVID-19 that night, leading to the suspension of the NBA season (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman).

On March 12, Major League Baseball made the decision to postpone the beginning of its 2020 season, which was set to begin on March 26, sparking the beginning of tense talks to begin the season. In late March, the MLB and MLBPA agreed to a pay cut that would allow players to get paid through the months of April and May, but also would save the owners money that they were not making back from revenue off of games. To summarize months of discussion, we’re nowhere close to seeing both the players and owners reach an agreement that both sides are content with. The owners are asking players to take a larger pay cut than originally agreed upon, proposing a 50/50 revenue split in early May. The MLBPA did not like this proposal, but no player was more vocal about his displeasure than Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell.

It was during a live-stream in which Snell was playing video games that Snell provided his opinion on the proposed deal, “Y’all gotta understand, man, for me to go — for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof…No, I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that’s just the way it is for me. Like, I’m sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I’m making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?”

Rays star and former AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell reacts to a play in a July 2018 game against the Houston Astros (Troy Taormina/USA Today).

The two sides seem to be coming closer to an agreement, but the one thing that has seemingly been forgotten is Minor League Baseball. Obviously, the main focus for owners is the starting of the MLB season, which is where they will make much of their money, but there has been practically no discussion about what will happen to the 2020 MiLB season, and more seriously, what will happen to the hundreds of players that were released from their contracts due to money problems in early June. It seems less and less likely every day that we will even see an MLB season, so there is practically no chance that there will be Minor League Baseball in 2020, which could prematurely end the careers of many minor league players, and potentially signify the end of many teams’ existence as the talks of minor league contraction heat up.

Here’s hoping that we can get sports, specifically “America’s Pastime” back soon!

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