June 30, 2020

MLB.com's Article On Best 60-Game Stretches In History Contains Significant Errors

Are you curious what the best batting average or best OPS or lowest ERA is over any 60-game stretch in modern major league history?

Well, Tom Tango (MLB.com senior data architect) and Jason Bernard (MLB.com baseball research and development manager) did the digging and MLB.com's Matt Kelly presents the information, but there are significant errors in his article.

Babe Ruth is listed as having the best OPS of all-time over a 60-game period (1.598, May 11 to July 22, 1920), but Ruth actually played in 68 games between those dates and posted a 1.572 OPS. For what it's worth, Ruth's 60-game span from May 23 to July 19 produced a 1.558 OPS. That is still an otherworldly performance, but it's not what is in the article.

I also looked at Rogers Hornsby's .466 batting average from June 21 to August 29, 1924. Again, this is supposedly to be over 60 games, but it's 71 games, and Hornsby batted .467.

Don't worry, some of the information is correct. I picked Barry Bonds's 1.016 slugging percentage from April 13 to June 23, 2001 and discovered it was accomplished in 60 games.

I'm So Old I Remember When . . .

I'm so old I remember when news of the President of the United States committing treason by doing nothing for 18 months after being told Russia was offering (and paying) cash bounties to killers of American soldiers in Afghanistan would have been an important, stop-the-presses event.

June 29, 2020

Red Sox Announce List Of 47 Players For "Summer Training"

The Red Sox announced their list of 47 players who will report to summer training at Fenway Park next Wednesday. The first workout is scheduled for Friday, July 3.
Catchers (5): Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez, Connor Wong

Infielders (11): Jonathan Arauz, Xander Bogaerts, C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Marco Hernández, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, Yairo Muñoz, José Peraza

Outfielders (7): John Andreoli, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar, César Puello, Alex Verdugo

Pitchers (24): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Hall, Kyle Hart, Heath Hembree, Darwinzon Hernandez, Brian Johnson, Robinson Leyer, Chris Mazza, Collin McHugh, Josh Osich, Martín Pérez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, Domingo Tapia, Josh Taylor, Phillips Valdez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber, Brandon Workman
The first three spots in the Red Sox's rotation are set with Rodriguez, Eovaldi, and Pérez. The other two spots are up for grabs and could include an opener.

Jonathan Lucroy is not on the list of catchers, but the non-roster invitee is expected to be with the club for the start of camp. He and Plawecki will compete for the back-up role.

Verdugo would have likely opened the season on the injured list back in late March, but his back issues should not be a problem now.

The Red Sox's schedule for the 60-game season should be released in the next 7-10 days.

June 25, 2020

40 MLB Players And Staff Tested Positive For SARS-CoV-2 Last Week

Forty MLB players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in the last week, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Two persons with direct knowledge spoke to Nightengale on the condition of anonymity. The exact number of teams affected is not known, but Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported it is more than 10.

Last week, five Phillies players and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Additional testing revealed two additional players and two more staff members were positive. Multiple Blue Jays players and staff also have tested positive, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

June 24, 2020

Baseball! Owners & Players Agree To A 60-Game Season Beginning July 23

There will be a 2020 baseball season.



The Players Association agreed yesterday to Major League Baseball's proposal of a 60-game regular-season schedule, to begin July 23 or 24.

Players will report to training camps by July 1 (a week from tomorrow!). Most teams will be training in their major league parks. Players, coaches, and support staff will be tested for SARS-CoV-2 every other day during "summer" training, the regular season, and postseason. Players will also receive temperature/symptom checks at least twice per day. Anybody testing positive will be quarantined and two negative tests would be required to return.

Each team will play 10 games against each of the four teams in its division and 20 games (four games each?) against the other league's corresponding division (e.g., AL East will play NL East).

Teams must submit a 60-man training camp roster by Sunday afternoon. Teams will open the season with a 30-man roster, which will be reduced to 28 players after two weeks and to 26 after four weeks.

I cannot properly express my disgust and anger at this decision: For regular-season games, teams will begin each extra inning with a runner on second base. If you are keeping a scorecard, the runner will be considered to have reached on an error, but the other team will not be charged with an error. Of course. Score it E-MLB, perhaps? The 2020 postseason will not use this bullshit gimmick. All bets are off for future postseasons.

Also, the DH will be used in both leagues. This also annoys me, but it's small potatoes compared to the Extra-Inning Runner.

Ben Lindbergh has written an excellent overview at The Ringer.
MLB still almost fatally fumbled an opportunity to generate interest in and loyalty to its product by making it as difficult as possible for its fans to feel good about baseball. ... [T]he sport turned people off at a time when it could have bolstered its somewhat specious claim to traditional "national pastime" status. ...

The good news now is that even if the season doesn't start, or has to stop prematurely, MLB can convincingly claim that COVID-19 was the culprit ... This saga did damage to baseball, but the worst was averted, and barring additional ass-showing, the league can come back next year with something close to a clean slate. ...

Not only does the season pale in significance to the existential issues dominating the news, but it also seems like a blend between naive and overly optimistic to sketch out the season down to the last detail considering the likelihood that the coronavirus will make it all moot.

Over the weekend, MLB shut down team training camps for cleaning after 40 players and team personnel tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreaks spanned several teams—including the Phillies, the Yankees, the Blue Jays, the Giants, the Astros, and the Angels—in multiple locations. The number of known infections has continued to climb. And that’s before most of the players report. Hours after the MLBPA signed off on the health-and-safety protocol, Charlie Blackmon and two other Rockies reportedly tested positive, which seems like a sign of things to come. ...

Here's a sobering truth bomb for fans who are happy to have this messy labor battle behind them: This was just the tremor that preceded a longer economic earthquake to come. MLB's CBA expires in December 2021, and if this spring is any indication, the next negotiation isn't going to be a friendly affair. ... By refusing to allow the owners to squirm out of their commitment to prorated pay, the players effectively fired a shot across MLB's bow, sending a signal that they won't be browbeaten into settling for less than they believe they're entitled to earn. ...

The players even scored some points in the court of public opinion, where they historically haven't fared well. Fans have dependably sided with ownership in past labor battles, swayed by rhetoric about "greedy" players whose salaries are accessible and easy to stew about (unlike the owners' much larger but less visible bank accounts). ...

For the first time, there's little truth to the maxim that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. ... [T]his year's championship won't be viewed as legitimate in the way that a normal, non-sign-stealing-tainted one would ... but fans of mediocre teams can dare to dream about an upset. ...

June 23, 2020

Aubrey Huff Is A Proud, Ignorant Moron On Twitter (And Everywhere Else)

June 19, 2020

MLB Closes All Training Facilities in Florida & Arizona
Phillies Close Florida Camp After Eight People Test Positive For COVID-19


MLB has closed all spring training camps in Arizona and Florida, according to USA Today Sports, so they can be disinfected and cleaned. Players and staff will not be readmitted to the facilities unless they test negative for COVID-19.


Eight people in the Phillies organization have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 this week and the team has shut down its training facility in Clearwater, Florida, until further notice.

Five players and three staff members tested positive, with the first case being confirmed on Tuesday. More than 30 other team personnel (20 players, 12 staff) are waiting for test results. None of the eight people have been hospitalized.

Florida has had record-setting numbers of new cases this week and is one of 17 states in which hospitalizations for COVID-19 are increasing (Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Vermont). Deaths from COVID-19 are on an upward trend in 13 states and Washington, D.C.

In nearby Dunedin, the Blue Jays also closed their training camp after a player exhibited symptoms. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the player "is a pitcher on the 40-man roster who recently had spent time with players in the Phillies' minor leagues system ... He has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results." Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said the team is "being overly precautious with testing". Back in March, two minor leaguers with the Yankees tested positive for COVID-19 in Tampa. They have both recovered.

Also: The Astros had one player test positive for COVID-19 at the team's facility in West Palm Beach. The unidentified player had minor symptoms and is recovering. Two Angels players tested positive for COVID-19, although neither had been working out at Angel Stadium or the team's training camp in Tempe, Arizona. The Giants and Rangers announced they were shutting down their training facilities in Florida and Arizona.

The positive tests come at a time when a possible agreement concerning a 2020 season might be reached. The Union's proposal to MLB yesterday suggested a 70-game regular season. MLB's last offer was for 60 games.

Other professional sports teams in Florida have seen positive tests this week: Multiple players with the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) and the assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) have tested positive. Also, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews and a San Francisco 49ers player both tested positive.

June 18, 2020

Does The Daily News Realize The Old Yankee Stadium Was Replaced 12+ Years Ago?

For today's back page, the New York Daily News used a photo of the second Yankee Stadium, which was last used in 2008 and was demolished more than 10 years ago, to illustrate how baseball fans in 2020 cannot buy tickets to games.

June 17, 2020

Commissioner Rob Manfred Foolishly Guarantees A 2020 Season Before Admitting, Five Days Later, There's A "Real Risk" Of No Season At All

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred:
June 10, 2020:
We're going to play baseball in 2020. One hundred percent. ... [O]ne way or the other, we're playing Major League Baseball.
June 15, 2020:
I can't tell you that I'm a hundred percent certain [a 2020 season is] gonna happen ... I'm not confident. I think there's real risk [of no 2020 season].
Heck of a job, Brownie.

On June 12, MLB proposed a 72-game season (July 14-September 27), with players receiving 70% of their prorated salaries for the regular season and 80% if the postseason is completed.

The Union rejected that offer and countered with an offer of an 89-game regular season with full prorated salaries and expanded playoffs. The owners turned that down. Manfred said a counter-proposal "consistent with the economic realities we're looking at" is being prepared.

Agent Joel Wolfe dismissed the owners' constant cries of poverty:
The Marlins played without fans for 15 years, yet still managed to give a player the biggest contract in sports history [Giancarlo Stanton], and then sold the team for a billion dollar profit, with 5 competing buyers.
The Union says the players "resoundingly reject" any additional salary concessions and according to executive subcommittee member (and Nationals pitcher) Max Scherzer, there is "no justification to accept a second pay cut based upon the current information" provided by MLB.

It is also reported that as many as eight owners currently would rather not have a season at all.

Ken Rosenthal (The Athletic) writes:
Rob Manfred finally seems to be figuring out he has no choice: Strike a deal with the union and salvage the 2020 season, or ruin his legacy as commissioner of baseball.
Who knew Manfred's legacy was still unruined?

I'm not sure if Rosenthal believes his own words. He also writes:
The best commissioners offer statesmanlike presence and superior vision. Few ascribe those qualities to Manfred, and few would argue baseball is in a better place since he took over for [Bud] Selig on Aug. 14, 2014. ...

[F]or a guy who suddenly is looking for peace, Manfred sure has a funny way of showing it. ... Unless making dead-on-arrival proposals, tone-deaf public remarks and other assorted blunders is your idea of negotiating savvy. ...

What complicates the situation is that some owners might not want to play at all. ... [T]he owners say they will lose money in every game without fans if the players do not accept a pay cut. But the players adamantly oppose a cut, and the owners have yet to make a proposal without one. ...

Most owners will be in the game longer than most players, enabling them to eventually recoup their losses from 2020, then profit from their franchise's resale values. ...

If he blows this, it will define him.

June 15, 2020

Talks For Possible 2020 Season Reach A Stalemate As Union Rejects MLB's Latest Proposal

On Saturday night, after MLB again proposed a shortened 2020 season (72 games) with a reduction in per-game pay, the Players Association effectively walked away from the table, stating it believed the negotiations to be over.

MLB's proposal called for a 70% reduction in players' salaries, 80% if the postseason were played to completion. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that further talks appear to be futile.

If MLB returns with a new offer that does not include a pay cut, the Union would listen, but there is little indication MLB will do that. Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to unilaterally set a schedule of X games as long as the players are given 100% of their full prorated salaries, as per a March agreement.

Bruce Meyer, lawyer for the Players Association:
Players remain united in their stance that a day's work is worth a day's pay, particularly in a situation where players and their families are being asked to take on additional burdens and risks. Given your continued insistence on hundreds of millions of dollars of additional pay reductions, we assume these negotiations are at an end. If it is your intention to unilaterally impose a season, we again request that you inform us and our members of how many games you intend to play and when and where players should report. ... We demand that you inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday, June 15. ...

Your refusal to play (regular season) games in October is purportedly based primarily on concern for player health. We believe this is a pretext. We note that we requested information at our May 31 meeting on any basis for not playing games in October. You agreed to provide such information but we have yet to receive it. Other leagues are planning on playing in October and November, and we have proposed having the flexibility to play games at neutral sites if necessary to address any safety concerns. We believe your position is part and parcel of your general bad faith determination to play as few games as possible to punish players for refusing to capitulate to MLB's demands for massive pay cuts.
It was also reported on Saturday that MLB had agreed on a new $3.29 billion deal with Turner Sports, one of its broadcast partners. The deal is worth nearly $500 million per season from 2022 through 2028.

That news only strengthens the Union's belief that MLB is lying about its allegedly dire financial state. The Union continues to ask MLB to provide evidence of its financial claims. Clark said the Players Association had asked MLB weeks ago for information regarding the Turner arrangement, but MLB refused to provide it.

June 13, 2020

Judge Rules MLB Letter To Yankees Re Sign-Stealing Investigation Must Be Released

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to the New York Yankees regarding the findings of a 2017 investigation into sign-stealing by the Yankees must be released, according to a New York judge.

The ruling states that a minimally-redacted version of the letter ("to protect the identity of the individuals mentioned") must be released by noon ET on Monday, June 15.

The Yankees argue the letter would cause "significant reputational injury", if released, but also claim: "We're not doing this to cover up some smoking gun."

The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit brought against MLB by daily fantasy sports contestants in the wake of other sign-stealing scandals. The letter concerns activities by the Yankees in 2015 and 2016.

Judge Jed Rakoff ruled:
Plaintiffs alleged that the 2017 Press Release falsely suggested that the investigation found that the Yankees had only engaged in a minor technical infraction, whereas, according to plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme. ... [Plaintiffs argue the letter] proved Manfred's duplicity. ...

MLB primarily argues that it will be injured by the disclosure of the Yankees Letter because such disclosure will undermine its ability to conduct internal investigations in the future by undermining teams' faith in their confidentiality. The Yankees argue that they have a strong privacy interest because public disclosure of the Yankees Letter would cause the Yankees significant reputational injury. While this may be the case, the gravity of this concern is again lessened by the fact that the contents of the Yankees Letter have already been discussed in some form by the 2017 Press Release.
Evan Drellich, The Athletic:
[T]he league's 2017 press release about the Yankees' conduct lacked specificity.

The league determined in 2017 that the Red Sox had illegally transmitted signs via a wearable device, in what became known as the Apple Watch scandal. But in the press release announcing the findings of the investigation into both the Red Sox and Yankees, Manfred did not detail exactly what the Yankees did, noting only that it included the use of the dugout phone. ...

The Athletic has previously reported that in 2017 MLB determined that the Yankees had engaged in conduct related to sign stealing similar to the Red Sox'.
In his ruling, Rakoff called the privacy interests of both the Yankees and MLB "modest at best, and not nearly strong enough to overcome the robust presumption of access that attaches to the Yankees Letter".

June 8, 2020

Players Union Unlikely To Accept MLB's Latest Proposal (76-Game Season, 50% Of Prorated Salaries (75% If Postseason Is Completed))

MLB's latest proposal for the 2020 season is a 76-game regular season with players receiving 50 percent of their prorated salaries (75% if a full postseason is played). MLB has junked its plan of a sliding scale of salary reductions.

The Post reports:
The Players Association did not comment publicly, but ... views this as taking a substantial risk by being guaranteed just half its prorated pay and needing a full postseason just to get half of the remaining 50 percent at a time when it still does not believe the owners will suffer the losses that MLB is claiming.

The union despised MLB's first 82-game plan because of the sliding scale and less than 100 percent of prorated salary. MLB hated the union's counter because it called for not only 100 percent prorated salaries but a 114-game season. Each brought greater fury rather than cooperation. ...

So where does it leave MLB? Already, the best outcome — starting the regular season on Independence Day weekend — is gone with not enough time for a resolution and a three-week spring training. ...

As part of the March 26 agreement with the players, the commissioner gained control of the schedule and MLB believes as long as it pays full prorated salaries the players are obligated to play. The union has not publicly conceded that ...
Bruce Meyer, the players' union top negotiator, wrote to MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem last Friday:
The league's cynical tactic of depriving America of baseball games in furtherance of their demand for unwarranted salary concessions is shortsighted and troubling. Meanwhile, other leagues are moving forward with their plans for resumption.
Not only can the two sides not agree when the season might start, they cannot agree when it might end. The union's proposal had the postseason going into November. MLB is "unalterably opposed" to having the regular season extend past September 27, fearing a greater risk during a possible second wave of SARS-CoV-2. The union has warned MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred not to force a shortened season on the players.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal writes:
The way negotiations are dragging, the start of the season easily might be delayed until August, and 50 to 60 games might prove the only option. ...

A canceled season still seems unthinkable, but failing to make the July 4 opening also seemed unthinkable, and here we are. ... [Both parties] act like a couple about to split, talking at each other instead of to each other, recycling the same arguments, stubbornly insisting the other is wrong. They are trapped in their relationship, trapped by their respective histories. And the perception of the game suffers.

None of this happened overnight. The union's distrust of the owners dates back decades, and stems in part from three separate rulings of collusion and the original fight for free agency ... Meyer voiced that distrust in his letter to Halem, saying, "we note that the league frequently claims that it has negative operating profits from playing baseball yet it still puts on baseball games every year." The union attorney also noted the team's regional-sports network contracts the league submitted to the PA, "were so heavily redacted as to be essentially meaningless." ...

Every move the league has made in these negotiations – an economic presentation the union considered dubious, a delayed, tiered salary proposal that would have hit wealthiest players the hardest, the recent suggestion of a 50-odd game schedule – has stiffened the players' resolve. The players do not believe the owners' claim that they will lose money with each regular-season game played without fans, and want proof of the clubs' financial distress. The league shares certain information, but the teams, like most private enterprises, do not make their books publicly available. ...

[T]he union seems focused on building unity for the looming CBA negotiations, rather than treating 2020 as an unprecedented, short-term situation.

June 7, 2020

Joey Votto's Awakening: "Only Now Am I Beginning To Hear. I Am Awakening To Their Pain, And My Ignorance. No Longer Will I Be Silent."

Joey Votto, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 7, 2020:
My Awakening

On May 28, I received an emotional text from one of my few African American teammates. He asked me to watch a video of a black man being killed under the knee of a white police officer. My instincts provoked an instantaneous defense of the officer. Perhaps the man was resisting arrest? Maybe there is a story the video isn't telling?

"Watch the f---ing video."

I deemed his response offensive. I told my friend not to yell at me and wished him goodnight. He apologized.


A week before George Floyd's death, before any protests or uprising, I finished reading a copy of "A Long Walk to Freedom," the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. I took in the history of his 27-year prison sentence for leading a fight against overt racism in South Africa. I admired his willingness to sacrifice for the cause of freedom for all. I considered him a hero for backing up his words with actions.

And then I tucked the book away on a shelf in my library.


I was raised in Mimico, a small neighborhood just outside of Toronto, Canada. One of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. In 2002, the Cincinnati Reds selected me with the 44th pick in the Major League Baseball draft. At 18 years of age, I began my professional career, traveling around America on buses, growing up in clubhouses that were predominantly divided between white Americans and Latinos. Most of our minor league teams had a few African American players, as well, and perhaps because of where I was raised, I found myself most comfortable with the group of Americans who weren't white.

For five years, I shared hotel rooms with my African-American teammates. We shared pizzas, played video games, and listened to music together. We developed friendships. I look back on these years as some of the best of my life.

But I also witnessed glimpses of racism that should have opened my eyes to the realities of being a black man in America. My teammates, my friends, the ones that I shared great times with, faced prejudices that I never did and when they shared their experiences ...

I did not hear them.


The day after I rejected my teammate's request to witness George Floyd's death, I finally opened the video. I wept. I texted my friend back and apologized. He graciously accepted, and then I moved on. I had acknowledged his pain. I had done my part.

Everything inside of me wants things to go back to normal. I don't want to protest, raise my voice, or challenge someone. I don't want to have heated arguments, break up friendships, or challenge previous norms.

But I hear you now, and so that desire for normalcy is a privilege by which I can no longer abide. That privilege kept me from understanding the "why" behind Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem. That privilege allowed me to ignore my black teammates' grievances about their experiences with law enforcement, being profiled, and discriminated against. And that privilege has made me complicit in the death of George Floyd, as well as the many other injustices that blacks experience in the U.S. and my native Canada.

A week after I returned Mandela's biography to the library shelf, I dismissed a black friend's plea for support. Only now am I just beginning to hear. I am awakening to their pain, and my ignorance. No longer will I be silent.


June 2, 2020

After Players Union Proposes 114-Game Season, MLB, Wanting To Rip Up A Deal It Agreed To Only Two Months Ago, Is Considering A Short Season Of As Few As 40 Games

Major league owners and players have been trading possibilities for a shortened 2020 season, but the two sides may be farther apart than they were a month ago.

There have been proposals for seasons of 82 games (MLB), 114 games (Union), and somewhere between 40-60 games (MLB). The Players Association does not want to accept any additional reduction in pay (and certainly not before seeing the owners' financial books) and if that is the case, then MLB wants as short a season as possible so teams spend as little as possible on payroll.

There is also the matter of both sides agreeing on health and safety issues and then coming to an agreement with local, state, and federal medical officials. The period of negotiation depends on how long the season would be, but time is running out, in any case.

On May 15, MLB submitted "2020 Operations Manual", a 67-page document, to the Players Association. It proposed an 82-game season that would begin in early July.

The New York Post reported on the manual's contents. Here are some of their highlights, which likely give a good idea of how baseball would proceed if and when the issues surrounding health and money are resolved:
The Game

* Players on opposite teams should not socialize, fraternize or come within 6 feet of each other before and during the game, warm-ups and anthem. The same goes for players on the same team. "Do not sit" areas of the dugout will be designated with 6 feet of labeled tape and coaches as well as players less likely to participate (like starting pitchers not going that day) will be assigned to the unoccupied seats behind the dugout, where they'll also socially distance. ...

* All non-playing personnel must wear masks at all times in the dugout and all personnel must make all efforts to avoid touching their face with their hands (including to give signs), wiping away sweat with their hands, licking their fingers, whistling with their fingers or any similarly unsanitary acts. Spitting is prohibited (including but not limited to saliva, sunflower seeds, or tobacco) at all times in club facilities.

* Any ball that is put in play and touched by multiple players shall be removed and exchanged for a new baseball. After an out, players are strongly discouraged from throwing the ball around the infield.

* Pitchers should bring their own rosin bag to the mound, and batters should have their own pine tar and batting donuts that they bring with them to and from the on-deck circle.

* When the ball goes out of play, fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner. Likewise between pitches. ...

* Fighting and instigating fights are strictly prohibited. Players must not make physical contact with others for any reason unless it's a "normal and permissible" part of the game action. Violations of the fighting mandates will result in "severe discipline."

* Using the indoor hitting cage is discouraged. Usage of saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy pools and cryotherapy chambers at the ballpark are forbidden. Teammates are not to high-five, fist-bump or hug while on team property, and showering at the ballpark will be discouraged.


* The entire team must stay in the same hotel; in the past, many superstars have stayed separately from the team. Members of the traveling party are prohibited from traveling or leaving the hotel for any reason besides going to the game in any manner without team approval. ...

* Clubs should try to book their teams on low floors of hotels in order to avoid riding shared elevators and ensure that hotels provide a private dining area for the traveling party, none of whom will be allowed to eat outside that area.

* No one from the traveling party can use the hotel gym or any other shared facility.

* The only acceptable methods of travel to and from the ballpark will be participants’ own vehicles or the team bus. That means no Ubers, taxis or mass transit. A sufficient number of buses will be provided to and from the ballpark to ensure everyone will have an empty seat next to him or her.

Medical Practices

* Upon arriving at spring training, all players and support staff must undergo a screening 48-72 hours prior to the report date. Temperatures will be taken with a contactless thermometer, either a saliva or nasal swab test will be administered and so will a blood test. Those tested must self-quarantine until they receive results, which should be within 24-48 hours. A negative test will allow a player to join spring training. A positive test would lead to the person being placed in self-isolation.

* Players will have their temperatures taken twice daily and screening for the virus multiple times a week. Any individual with a temperature more than 100 degrees or symptoms of the virus will be subject to immediate screening for COVID-19. ...

* Players will be provided thermometers to use each morning twice consecutively then be required to register the results in a database.

* MLB will not formally restrict off-field activities, but will encourage those who are part of the game to avoid areas such as crowded bars, clubs and restaurants and other activities that increase the risk of contracting the virus. ...

* If someone needs to get tested at an off-site medical facility, that facility cannot be a hospital or clinic that has been treating COVID-19 patients.

Spring Training

* Teams will be limited to 50 players.

* Teams that use a major league stadium should stagger times of workouts throughout the day to avoid overcrowding and use other facilities — such as, for example, nearby colleges — if feasible to lessen the number of players/personnel in contact at any one time.

* All exhibition games in Florida and Arizona will begin at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. local time to account for the heat.
When that was released, Joel Sherman of the Post wrote:
In the best scenario, MLB is hoping to begin spring training in mid-June. That means getting an agreement with the Players Association no later than the next two weeks. Because to implement all the spring health/safety protocols and to get the players there will probably take another two weeks. And in the next two weeks MLB and the union importantly have to agree on how to pay the players, a contentious issue that is making groups that need to be cooperative, not that.
On Thursday, May 21, the Players Association delivered its response. It stated that as far as the health of the players and other team employees, government (local, state, federal) officials and medical officials, in addition to MLB and the Players Association, must agree on a set of health and safety rules before other topics, such as the length of the season and salaries, can be tackled. The union's response covered testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel, protections for high-risk players and family, access to pregame and postgame therapies, and sanitization protocols.

On Tuesday, May 26, MLB proposed a season of 82 games and presented its financial plan, which called for players making the least amount of money to earn a higher percentage of their normal annual salary. If an 82-game regular season was played, players making the 2020 minimum of $563,500 would receive around 93% of the prorated amount or $262,000. Players with the highest salaries would take a larger pay cut, up to more than 50%. For example, Gerrit Cole would have been paid $36 million this season, but his pro-rated salary of around $18 million for 82 games would be reduced by 44% to roughly $8 million. MLB's proposal had several tiers between the lowest and highest salaries.

The Players Association was discouraged, noting that the players — not the owners — would be risking increased exposure to a virus that has infected nearly two million Americans and resulted in more than 107,000 US deaths. The union indicated the two sides had sizable differences on health and safety issues. The union was already annoyed when it approached MLB's offer because a proposal had been expected two weeks earlier. The union believes MLB's delay was deliberate, to put public pressure on the players to agree to an owner-friendly deal amid the financial hardship of most Americans. Many players also viewed the MLB's proposal as an attempt to divide the union. Pitcher Brett Anderson of the Brewers tweeted: "Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players potentially look like the bad guys." There also exists the possibility that some high-priced players would choose to sit out the season.

On May 27, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer tweeted:
[T]here's no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there's no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I'm glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB's economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Agent Scott Boras sent an email to his many clients, urging them not to, in effect, bail out the owners. He reminded the players that MLB had agreed to a prorated salary structure back in late March and now wanted to renegotiate that agreement:
Remember, games cannot be played without you. Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated. ...

If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners' current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations. ...

Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout. They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect. ...

Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans. ... Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision. But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.
The union has firmly stated that it will not consider any additional financial concessions until the owners open their financial books for examination. No MLB team has ever done this.

On Sunday, May 31, the Players Association presented its counterproposal, featuring a 114-game schedule (June 30 to October 31), levels of deferred pay for players making eight figures, and the right of any player to opt out of the season.

Playing 114 games as opposed to 82 gives the players the opportunity to make a greater percentage of their salaries. The deferrals would protect the owners against a canceled postseason and the deferred payments, with interest, would be made in November 2021 and November 2022. The players would also receive an additional salary advance ($100 million lump sum) during spring training, on top of the $170 million payment the players negotiated in March. The players also offered two years of expanded playoffs, similar to what MLB wants.

It was reported by ESPN last night that MLB was considering playing a season of only 40-60 games if the players did not agree to further cuts in pay. But MLB has not officially presented any such proposal to the Players Association. Commissioner Rob Manfred believes the March 26 agreement allows MLB to schedule however many games it wants as long as players are paid their prorated salaries. MLB wants to complete the regular season by the end of September.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported:
Players have held out for a full prorated portion of their salaries, based on a March 26 agreement with the league, and in an offer Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that would cover 70.3% of their original salaries. A 50-game schedule with full pro rata would pay the players 30.8% of that number.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark:
This is all part of the league's attempts to negotiate through the media instead of focusing on how to bring baseball back to its fans. ... We have an agreement on compensation that says clearly how players get paid in the event games are played — pro-rata. In fact, the league recently confirmed in writing that "we agree with the Association that, under the Agreement, players are not required to accept less than their full prorated salary." ... We have never denied that MLB has the ability to come back and try to persuade us to change that agreement based on their economic concerns. They've tried unsuccessfully. In fact, Rob confirmed yesterday that, "We can pay you 100 percent of salary right now."
The deadline for an agreement depends on how long the season would be. The fewer the games, the longer the parties can argue. But for an 82-game season beginning in early July, as the league proposed a week ago, players would need to be in spring training, Part 2, by the middle of June.

"The exact drop-dead, I don't know, but it has to be within like a week or so," one person with knowledge of the discussions said of an 82-game schedule.

The Post's Joel Sherman published an excellent column yesterday, suggesting the old canard of "greedy players" be retired forever. That won't happen, but in these times it's good to see more people acknowledging reality:
I think the players have a responsibility to help find a financial solution that allows major league baseball to be played this year. ...

I think the players are more than just the employees. They also are stewards of the game ...

Here is what I don't think: The players are greedy. That designation was tired when it was said about Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax and Reggie Jackson. I get it you played baseball as a kid and think you would do it for free as a profession. You wouldn't. No one works for free.

You think the money would be better spent on nurses and teachers. Agreed. Redirect all you spent that helped make MLB an $11 billion industry last year to nurses and teachers. If there is less money in the game, players will make less. ... As a society we have decided to value this particular rare skill set. You and corporations paid the $11 billion. Owners gave roughly half of that to players, as they did pretty much every year before a pandemic. No one had a gun to anyone's head to spend it.

You think the players' salaries have priced you out of tickets. Except the Orioles and Tigers cut their payrolls by $100 million each from 2017 to 2020. Were either lowering ticket prices to reflect the savings and certitude of a worse product?

Add it all up and returning to the "greedy" player feels like wool uniforms — something that should have been retired long ago.

The owners have gotten used to winning negotiations, the last collective bargaining agreement for sure, with the minor leagues, with umpires, with getting caps on the draft and international spending. They have done this with a strategy more jackhammer than stiletto. This is what any business does — tries to get the most production for the least cost. ...

Players endure capped systems in either the draft or internationally at the entry level. They have to work through the minors, often for several years, making wages often below poverty levels. Those who reach the majors cannot seek an open market for six or, if their service time is manipulated, seven seasons (think those who have had their service manipulated trust owners right now?). In the first three years, teams can pay major leaguers whatever they want, usually close to the minimum. The next three to four years, the teams have an arbitration system that, yes, begins to pay players better, but within confines and without a free market providing true value in what often are players’ most productive seasons.

In recent years, analytic front offices have smartly — but coldly — figured out how to get similar production for less cost, lowering many bars for arbitration-eligible players and free agents. One of the strategies is to keep the pay down on one end with all of the rules, then say the player is too old to get real money when he is finally free. ...

Also, whatever a player earns, we all will know it. We have no idea what owners make, which is central to the union complaint. MLB is crying poor but the Players Association is dubious.