MLB Start of the 2021 Season to Get Delayed?

Author: Sonali Pathak


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Per the reports, the owners of the Majors League Baseball are mulling on delaying the start of the season 2021. The owners are thinking about getting the team vaccinated before making it to the spring training center. And, this might shift the start of the season to May -- it may further lead to making it a shorter season 2021 to 140 or fewer games. Unlike the MLB owners, the Players’ owners believe that the team could adapt to the COVID-19 safety protocols, which was evident in the last season. The Players Association wants the game to start on time as scheduled, playing all the 162 games. 

This winter, the COVID-19 cases have been soaring high! While the vaccine is being distributed giving hope for getting things right by mid of summer. For the MLB, this could be a struggle with the two sides -- the owners talking about delaying the season until everyone in the team gets vaccinated & on the other hand, the Players Association talking about the full season happening as scheduled to start.

The standoff between the MLB & MLBPA

Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA senior director of collective bargaining and legal said "We've seen anonymous quotes attributed to club sources casting doubt on the start date and length of the season. To be clear, and as we've made clear to the league, players are planning on showing up for spring training on time for a full 162-game season as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and the league's previously issued schedule."  

The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines have already begun, but the supply is limited at this point. And, the first to receive the vaccine doses would be the higher-priority populations that are already in line. If it’s like -- the precondition for starting would be league-wide vaccination then it could not start on scheduled time. But, the final decision could only be taken on the grounds of negotiations. And, this is not the only matter of discussion between the MLB & the MLBPA. They must also come to a conclusion on what kind of strategy they will further apply to pandemic & how they will be playing the season. This means that there is a lot of work to be done before the real game of baseball begins. 

Talking about this standoff, one of the owners of the game said, “I don’t see a snowball’s chance in hell that spring training can start with protocols in place. I think there will be significant pressure for players to get the vaccine first before they go to spring training, and if that has to be moved back to April and play 130 games, so be it. But to have 162 games, and start spring training at the normal time without players being vaccinated, that’s just crazy. Does Arizona and Florida, with their cases spiking, really want teams with about 125 people in each organization coming to town without vaccines?’’

Here’s what is expected

With this kind of standoff, there isn’t any chance that the season can start anytime soon the spring training season will start in the month of February. The MLB owners are more concerned about the safety of everyone -- no matter if it makes for a season with 80 games, 120 games, or 140 games. For players, it would be like they will lose $25 million in their salaries. In the previous season, when it was a 60-game season, they were paid 33% less than their salaries. The Players Association, in that case, is not at all ready to lose another pay cut. 

Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks manager, “I feel that the 2021 season can be played in full. I’m hopeful for that. I’m just proud of everyone in the industry, from top to bottom, who made that adjustment and made it work. We got to the finish line, there was a world champion for the 2020 season. I want us to explore the best possible options to play a full schedule and spring training.’’


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