When last I posted about the “negotiations” between MLB and the MLBPA, they had each made offers and counter offers to each other that amounted to little more than posturing and name calling. Through it all was also an argument over the meaning of the wording of the agreement they each signed back in March. They had a golden opportunity to be the one major sport playing in the US…and blew it. The final insulting offer from MLB was met with a terse “just tell us when and where to report” from the players…with clear indication a grievance would follow.
Then something changed. It seemed MLB blinked in the face of player unity and fan disgust. Rob Manfred met Tony Clark for several hours Tuesday. He then reported they had a framework for a deal. MLB then put forward a new proposal, this time for a 60 game season at full prorated pay for the players. This was a significant step up from the 48 games at full pro rata that had been offered previously. The gullible thought the MLBPA would soon sign. Not so fast. The MLBPA stated there were a number of things that had not been agreed upon yet…and countered with a 70 game proposal. This also was a significant shift; it was the first time they’d gone under 82 games, and the first time they agreed to end the regular season in September. The gullible now thought, well, they’re only 10 games apart, they can meet in the middle, right? Nope. MLB has said there’d be no counter to the counter proposal. As long as that sticks, then it leaves the MLBPA with two options—sign off on the 60 game proposal (and sacrifice the right to a grievance) or go back to “tell us where and when” without an agreement…which could likely be back to the 48 game schedule…and that would likely result in the aforementioned grievance.
However, no agreement could also mean no season at all…and a grievance from the MLBPA. Regardless, it all begs the issue of feasibility. With a spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida and Arizona, the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Giants have all had to close their spring training facilities for the time being due to positive cases among athletes and staffs. It could easily come about that the bickering between the players and owners is moot for this year if the proposed health protocols prove ineffective or never get put in place at all if too many players test positive and the overall risk is deemed to great.
As for the scheduling of a season, it should be remembered the plans have all included minimizing travel by having the whole schedule within the division and the opposite league’s sister division (AL East vs NL East, Central vs Central, and West vs West). Thus 60 and 70 game schedules are easy enough:
60 games—40 within the division, 10 against each division rival (5 home, 5 away), 20 vs the other division, 4 against each team (2 home, 2 away).
70 games—40 within the division as above, 30 vs the other division, 6 against each team (3 home, 3 away).
The only other really feasible schedules between the two would be 68 games—48 within the division, 12 against each division rival (6 home, 6 away), with the 20 game inter league schedule as above…or 62 games—32 within the division and 30 inter league.
25 inter league games or 44 or 36 intradivision games would result in some teams having more home games than others, and anything else would require more/fewer matchups between some teams in an already truncated season.