It is looking more and more like baseball fans won’t be able to root, root, root for the home team this year as the MLB season in 2020 could be over before its started.  As MLB owners and players continue their deadlock on how to proceed with the season, Commissioner Rob Manfred has always had the ability to step in and make a decision.

That authority was granted to him when the league called off the season ahead of Opening Day in March, but it appears he isn’t willing to wave his magic wand and make all the problems disappear.  Things look so bleak, in fact, that even Manfred is now ready to admit that there may not be a 2020 MLB season with player strikes looking possible.

Don’t Wager On Baseball’s Return This Year

Just a couple of weeks ago, Manfred was “100%” positive that there would be a 2020 season in the MLB.  He had no doubt that a plan could be worked out that would see players and owners make peace and get back to work.  However, his tune has now changed substantially, and told ESPN yesterday, “I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk; and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is going to continue.  The owners are 100% committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100% certain that’s going to happen.”

Baseball players are not happy with the latest revelation and, even if Manfred were willing to concede defeat and give in, many would most likely not suit up.  They believe that Manfred is working one of only two possible angles – either he truly believes that there won’t be any baseball this year or he’s stalling in order to shorten the season, which would force the players to take a salary reduction.

Either way, players are ready to show their disgust by staying at home and leaving baseball’s legacy as one that includes a footnote about owner greed.  The head of the MLB players’ union, Tony Clark, responded to Manfred’s comments by asserting, “Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would ‘100%’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season.”

MLB Season Not Over Other Issues, As Well

Even if players and owners were to reach an agreement and want to get back in the game, there’s another problem the league might not get over, to get the MLB season started.  According to a report by USA Today, a number of players and team employees have recently tested positive for the coronavirus.  As a result, this may force the league to cancel any plans it had to resume baseball action, as concerns of a resurgence of the virus could force health officials to take action.

According to Dan Halem, the league’s deputy commissioner, in a letter sent to the players’ union attorney, “The proliferation of COVID-19 outbreaks around the country over the last week, and the fact that we already know of several 40-man roster players and staff who have tested positive, has increased the risks associated with commencing spring training in the next few weeks.”  No information has been provided on which players or employees are affected.

One Last Chance At Baseball

At this point, if the health concerns can be over come, there may be only one more possibility for a MLB season return.  It’s a longshot and no one is overly confident, but players would be willing to give in if they were offered better salary concessions and an agreement on the number of games played that suits them – not owners.

Andy Martino of SportsNet New York believes that this is still a viable option, and said on Twitter today that he believes a deal could be reached.  He tweeted, “Early read this morning: the commissioner wants to make a deal. Some on the players side also optimistic he and owners will come back to the table. Fingers crossed for the sake of the game.”

There’s just one issue, though.  With so much animosity between players and owners, even some owners are now ready to throw in the towel.  Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic are reporting, per an unidentified player agent, that at least eight owners don’t want the season to resume.  This doesn’t bode well for the future of baseball in 2020.