MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is determined to have a baseball season, one way or another, despite the continued presence of the coronavirus. First, there was the idea of having all teams congregate in Phoenix, AX to play games. That plan may not have been completely thought out, so it faced the chopping block, now the MLB is targeting a July return in further developments.
Then, a tri-state option was concocted that would include Phoenix, as well as Texas and Florida. That idea is still being floated around and, while there is nothing yet definitive about the MLB’s course, there will almost certainly be major league baseball this year, one way or another.
MLB Now Plan July Return
Manfred is reportedly working hard at coming up with a resolution that will see players back on the diamond and fans back in the stands. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who seems to always have the inside scoop, the commissioner will be ready to share his plans with the rest of the world by the end of May, at the very latest. Among the options most seriously being considered would have players participate in a mini-training camp to dust off the uniforms and loosen up the joints once again. It would last for three weeks, with MLB league games making a return in July.
After that, MLB teams would play in anywhere from 80 to 100 games on a regular rotation, depending on how well they do, in a season that would last October. After that, they would hit warmer weather and play the remainder of the games where postseason action can be had without the need of parkas and snow boots.
May Will Bring Spring Flowers, But No Spring Baseball
At one point, as was the case with talk taking place in the NBA, MLB fully expected to be able to relaunch sometime next month. However, that has turned into an unrealistic goal, as the coronavirus refuses to relinquish its grip. COVID-19 is making life a living hell for a great number of people, and has completely flipped the sports and gambling worlds upside down. However, Manfred is pushing forward and told league employees in a letter last week, “While I fully anticipate that baseball will resume this season, it is very difficult to predict with any accuracy the timeline for the resumption of our season.”
One other alternative to the condensed, truncated or otherwise altered season is to break completely away from the norm. It’s not a normal year, so perhaps embracing that is the way to go. Passan mentions that another option would be for MLB to hold a playoff tournament to wrap things up. There are obviously a lot of questions that would have to be addressed for that to happen – statistics, draft picking order, payments, etc. – and it might not have enough support to become reality, but it’s an interesting concept.
Time To Call Out The Big Guns
When things do begin to return to normal, perhaps MLB can call on some assistance from the sports industry to give it a boost. In light of the attention currently given to the Michael Jordan documentary Last Dance, everyone knows that he went for a career in baseball after becoming a living basketball legend, but he almost had an opportunity to go straight to the majors, not to Double-A. The Oakland Athletics wanted him strictly for his star power, regardless of any perceived talent, and knew that Jordan would be a huge boost to the team’s bottom line.
However, Jordan is Jordan and never has wanted any handouts. His agent, David Falk, politely declined, explaining to MLB.com earlier this month, “I was excited about [the offer], and Michael was very appreciative. But he wanted to do the baseball thing from the ground up. He didn’t feel he deserved a spot on the Major League roster and didn’t feel he was ready. He didn’t want to be a Herb Washington type who would just steal bases and be a part-time outfielder. Michael’s an amazingly loyal guy. If not for his relationship with the White Sox, [the A’s offer] might have been something he might have done.”
It never pays to dwell on the “what could have been,” but imagining Jordan in the majors has interesting results. If he had gone straight to MLB, it’s easy to think that other teams would have tried to employ the same type of marketing schemes. That would have led to a possible baseball field that is completely different than the one the world knows today, or at least the pre-coronavirus baseball.