Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues unchecked throughout the United States, spring training is scheduled to open in a little more than two weeks. MLB hopes to delay the start of the 2021 season but can not do so unilaterally, so, as of right now, spring training and Opening Day are on schedule.
- 154-game season with full pay for players
- Season delayed one month and extended one week
- Expanded postseason
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Spring training would begin March 28, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, and Opening Day would be moved back to April 28. The Wall Street Journal‘s Jared Diamond adds the expanded postseason would include 14 teams, not 16 like last season.
Delaying the season a month and extending the season a week suggests there would be doubleheaders scheduled throughout the season, even with eight games being chopped off the schedule. Presumably, the universal DH, seven-inning doubleheaders and extra-innings tiebreaker rule are included in MLB’s proposal.
Brown says the players union is mulling over MLB’s proposal and it should be noted thean offer that would have given them the universal DH in exchange for an expanded postseason. The new 154-game season proposal is essentially the same offer, only with eight fewer games and a delayed start.
MLB’s proposal seems reasonable enough on the surface, though the MLBPA would not be getting anything nearly as valuable as the expanded postseason is to the owners. An expanded postseason equals tens of millions in additional revenue to MLB. The union is already entitled to full pay for 2021. They’re not getting much out of this.
As much as delaying the season would make sense for health and safety reasons, it comes down to money. MLB wants to play as many games as possible with fans in the stands, and delaying the season would help it do that now that vaccination distribution has begun. The MLBPA wants full pay regardless of season length.
Spring training camps are scheduled to open in mid-February and Cactus League and Grapefruit League play will begin Feb. 27. The regular-season opener is scheduled for April 1.