This may be just enough to cause players to reconsider taking the field.  As MLB owners and players fought over how to carry out the 2020 season, one of the sticking points was the number of games that should be played.  In one corner, we had owners looking for a short season; in the other, players fighting for more games. However, the referee in the middle, AKA, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, never expected there to be more than 60 games and, now, he doesn’t even think that many will be possible.

COVID-19 Continues Its Attack On Sports

There have been spikes on the number of coronavirus cases around the US, and even within sports leagues.  The increases are making people jittery, and the prospect of canceling sports seasons is becoming more of a reality.  However, even without the spikes, Manfred was ready to call an audible and curtail the number of games.  He said on The Dan Patrick Show yesterday, “The reality is we weren’t going to play more than 60 games in MLB no matter how the negotiations with the players went.”

That won’t sit well with players.  Already, the players union was planning on filing a grievance over the lack of proper negotiations regarding the number of games to be played, and this will certainly up the ante.  Fewer games mean lower salaries, and that’s something the players weren’t willing to concede.

60 Games In MLB Might Be Out Of The Question

Because things have taken so long to come together, and because of the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, Manfred now believes that 60 games in the MLB season won’t be possible.  This could further fuel the players’ dispute with the league and might be the catalyst for the union to rally the troops to stay away from the baseball field completely.  Nothing definitive has been stated by the union, but it is almost certainly an option that is now on the table.

Manfred kept relatively quiet while the owners and players batted the ball back and forth in their negotiations.  However, since he was forced to make the call, he hasn’t been silent.  In his most recent interview with USA Today, he expressed his belief that fewer games could be played, explaining, “If we had started an 82-game season [beginning July 1], we would have had people in Arizona and Florida the time the second spike hit… My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second spike. We would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.”

Manfred added that MLB will be “lucky” to see a full 60-game season because of the spike in coronavirus cases, stating, “With everything being shut down. The reality is that we’re going to be lucky if we get 60 games now given the course of the virus.”

MLB Has A Permanent Scar

The comments have come as a shock to players, as well as fans.  It’s unfathomable that a league commissioner could have playing games behind players’ backs, and the trust those individuals have in Manfred is now most likely shot to hell.  He has essentially asserted that he knew all along that this would be the outcome, causing owners and players to have wasted three months on extraneous negotiations that he knew would never go anywhere.

As the news starts to sink in, it will be interesting to see how the players union responds.  If it doesn’t take any action now, there’s little doubt that the upcoming collective bargaining agreement is going to see the union demanding a lot of changes in players’ favor, with Manfred possibly being forced to reconsider his position with the league.