MLB Formalizes Plan

The details of a 67-page memo from Major League Baseball to the Players Association came to light over the weekend concerning how to start the season amidst the COVID-19 crisis. While it covers topics and rules in excruciating detail, it is expected to grow with more sections and an expected response from the Players Association after their review.

Outside of no fans in the stands, baseball will look a little different. Masks are required other than when playing. There will be no high-fives or butt-slapping. Not only is tobacco banned but even spitting. It all makes sense given what we know about COVID-19 and its spread.

The loss of games notwithstanding, baseball manufacturers might be pleased by some of the rules. Too many players touch a ball? New ball. Bullpen session by a reliever? New balls. Homeruns and foul balls? Still new balls. Or instead of batboys, maybe we will have ballboys.

The plan includes a stringent testing regimen but does allow for only a 7-day quarantine after a positive test. There are also many social distancing measures that may prove problematic such as showering at home. Overall, it does a good job of trying to cover as much as possible with so many interests at play: the league, teams, players, employers, government, and health personnel.

MLB still aims for a June spring training and a start to the season in early July as earlier reporting suspected. MLB fans will eagerly await the response from the Players Association as the plan continues to evolve and the days to summer tick down. All-Star Philadelphia Phillie Bryce Harper weighed in on Instagram with some individual ideas for a season schedule that includes 135 games, doubleheaders, a College World Series style playoff structure, and the potential for a universal designated hitter. Come July and August, fans will likely be ready to take whatever they can get.