Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association finalized an agreement Tuesday to play the 2020 season, per an MLBPA statement:
The final hurdle involved agreeing upon health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, which has caused the delay of a season originally slated to start March 26.
But that hurdle has been cleared, and players will report to spring training by July 1, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
MLB announced the parameters of the 2020 regular season, which will begin on Thursday, July 23, or Friday, July 24, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times:
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported more on the schedule logistics.
Training camp will begin July 3 in teams’ home cities after players go through COVID-19 testing. The regular season will end on Sunday, Sept. 27.
Teams will play 10 games apiece against their division rivals and 20 total games versus their geographical counterparts in the other league. For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks will play 10 games each against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies.
Their remaining 20 games will occur against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.
Interleague geographical rivals (Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees vs. New York Mets, Oakland Athletics vs. San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels) will play each other six times each.
The schedule has been sent to the MLBPA for it approval, per Nightengale.
Heyman had reported earlier Tuesday that the two sides “have made progress but still haven’t made an agreement on the operating protocols.” And Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported “obstacles are not huge” and that “optimism is there.”
The campaign will look far different than any other in history.
Furthermore, the campaign will include the debut of the universal designated hitter, per Heyman. The DH was adopted by the American League in 1973.
And extra innings will proceed with a runner on second base for each team, per Heyman, to try to prevent games from lasting into the night.
Playing games with fans seems unlikely, especially since the United States on Sunday recorded its second-highest daily total of confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 36,617, per the World Health Organization. MMA cards, wrestling matches and professional golf events are all being held without spectators.
Still, baseball is back after the monthslong fight between MLB and the MLBPA.