If MLBPA has a say, there will be as many as 162 games for full pay. MLB reached out to the players’ association and asked them if they would be open for a shortened season in 2021 that might run for at least the first season. The immediate response was certainly not. A big fat NO! MLBPA Executive Vice President Former Yankee Tony Clark repeated what he said at the end of the season, “the players are planning a 162-game season and plan to show up for spring training on time.”
The start of the season and how long it is, has not yet been ironed out, along with many other rule changes in 2020 if they will be continued. Not least is whether it will be a universal DH in 2021, and whether they will keep the man on second base after nine rounds. At the end of the year, the current collective agreement (CBA) will expire after the 2021 season. The MLBPA will not seem weak when they enter into these negotiations. They will want to stick to everything they want for the 2021 season.
The CBA is the negotiated agreement that governs almost all aspects of the employment relationship between management (clubs) and the workforce (the players). While we have had a long period of peace of mind in baseball – the sport has been non-stop since 1995 – there is reason to fear that it may end with the next round of negotiations. At another point in the negotiations, I will explain the complex issues involved.
But for now, the details of the 2021 season must be ironed out, and for owners, the refusal to play an entire season of games in 2021 does not start well. In a USA Today story this week, team owners were quoted as skeptical that a full-length season could be completed.
“We have seen anonymous quotes attributed to sources who doubt the start date and length of the season,” Bruce Meyer, MLBPA’s senior director of collective bargaining and legal affairs, said in a statement Tuesday. “To be clear and ass we have made ready for the league, the players plan to show up in time for spring training and for a full 162 match season as described in the collective agreement and the leagues previously released.”
If you remember, the length of the MLB 2020 season and how much baseball players would be paid, caused long and tense negotiations before Commissioner Rob Manfred gave a mandate for the 60s season. There is no reason to expect anything different before this coming season. With so much unknown about the 2021 season, don’t expect any of these issues to be resolved by spring training in the spotlight. There are so many unknowns from the effect coronavirus will have on the season, if fans will be in the stands, how successful the hopeful vaccines will be, and if players are required to take the vaccines. Much more to come on this and many other MLB topics in the coming weeks.
EmpireSportsMedia.com columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.