Major League Baseball had their season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic before they could even begin their regular season. Commissioner Rob Manfred and other executives have been working on developing a plan to return to baseball, and a formal proposal was submitted last week.
Major League Baseball owners were quick to approve the return to baseball plan, and commissioner Manfred is now working with players to try and get a deal approved. It is expected that there will be some intense negotiations coming as the players will fight several of the key components of the deal.
Under this proposal, a second spring training would begin at some point in the middle of June, with the 2020 regular season starting around the Fourth of July. All teams would play around 82 regular-season games, and the games would be played in their home ballparks as long as local and state health officials allowed them to take place.
This proposal took weeks to complete, and Major League Baseball has been working closely with health officials to come up with this plan. New details have emerged over the weekend to outline just what a return to baseball would look like.
The main ingredient to the return to play proposal that has been approved by the owners is to allow Major League Baseball to conduct more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week. Major League Baseball has already constructed several COVID-19 test sites throughout the country that will allow testing to be done by citizens as well.
Social distancing is another major factor of this plan, and it is a step that is required by health officials in the United States. Major League ballparks will have to be overhauled to promote proper social distancing between players and game day personnel.
Major League Baseball has also been working hard to develop a plan to stop the spread of the coronavirus, should a player or employee test positive for the disease. These plans have all been approved by health officials, but now must be approved by the players and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The document that has been submitted to both owners and players is 67 pages in length and is extremely detailed. Several health officials have indicated to ESPN that the plan is sufficient, but they don’t think that the league will be able to implement the regulations in such a short amount of time.
There are major changes to Major League Baseball as a part of this plan as well, most notably that the designated hitter will be implemented in both the American and National League. Teams will also be allowed to have up to 50 players on their active roster under this plan, with a taxi squad being utilized.
All of the players that are not participating in the game, and game day personnel, would be required to sit in the stands and be seated at least six feet apart. The same standards would be applied for all active players during the playing of the national anthem.
Under this plan, there are several things that would be prohibited, things that are typical during Major League Baseball games. Fist bumps, high-fives, and hugs are strictly prohibited under this plan, which will eliminate a number of the current celebrations.
Players will also be prohibited from spitting, chewing sunflower seeds, or using tobacco during Major League Baseball games. Fielders are also encouraged to retreat away from base runners prior to a pitch being thrown.
Major League Baseball is committed to returning to action at some point in 2020, but the games and the on-field interactions are set to look a lot different.