It was widely reported that MLB has given the players a date to report.
It seems like there will be a Miami Marlins season after all. According to Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball requested that the MLB Players Association if players could report on July 1, signing off on safety and health protocols.
I find myself wanting to ask why we should care. An extended back-and-forth between MLB and MLBPA further exposed MLB ownership as completely out-of-touch with their rank-and-file employees. The 30 team owners showed themselves to be more interested in getting the players to forgo their planned grievance in the future than in preserving any vestige of a season. In my opinion, the players have acted in good-faith while the owners have made a poor attempt at seizing this opportunity to get the country’s attention. This 11th hour proposal could go a long way into preserving the good faith of baseball fans at large.
The United States of America has been facing a domestic “war” on two fronts — coronavirus, and the George Floyd protests. A severely weakened economy and sky-high unemployment rates due to country-wide closures set the stage for these already desperate times. When George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin while three of his police buddies (and later the rest of the world) watched, it added gasoline to an already combustible situation. This is a country in need of distraction. Enter sports.
On March 11, I watched the Miami Marlins play the St. Louis Cardinals in what proved to be the last sporting event to date. Since then, all sporting events in the United States have been cancelled or postponed. Some, like NASCAR, have invented new ways to interact. The stock car organization set up a “virtual” series of races, where the expected participants in the race actually did compete with one another. The National Football League remains the only such organization largely unaffected by the dual crisis — which is mostly just random good fortune as their season runs from July through January. The other leagues had no such luck.
College and minor league baseball seasons were completely cancelled. The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League postponed the rest of their respective seasons and are still waiting to complete them. But to my original question — why care about baseball at this point?
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There are a lot of reasons to tune in to the proposed 60-game format, with a tentative start date of July 24. Universal designated hitter, the strange 10-team format for each of the three “sub-leagues,” playing to an empty house (have you seen the Ultimate Fighting Championship events?).
Add to this the fact the Miami Marlins may have an actual fighting chance to make the expanded 14-team postseason. Can you imagine the Marlins backing into their third World Series Championship after going 57-105? Any team is capable of putting up a .500 record for two months. Even the 1993 expansion year Florida Marlins once won 30 games in 61. Sixty games is the perfect length for the Marlins to surprise everyone. MLB has set a 5PM EST deadline for the MLBPA to respond to their proposal. We could have “Spring Training” within a week.
So a longer season would expose the Marlins as outmatched — but stranger things have happened. Wouldn’t you like to see Miguel Rojas, Monte Harrison, Jon Berti, and Brian Anderson hustle? Witness the possible beginning of Sixto Sanchez‘ career? An instant pennant race? Thanks for reading.