Baseball fans around the country should have been preparing for the first pitch of this year’s MLB season around Memorial Day. Then, after that did not happen, fans looked to mid-June for the league to start up. Now on June 14th, fans look toward a possible, but highly unlikely, July 4th start.
All three of these potential start dates will remain a dream for baseball fans due to the ongoing disagreements between MLB Players Association and MLB owners. The MLBPA and team owners have been attempting to negotiate a deal to return to play following Major League Baseball’s suspension due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Aside from the major issue of the amount of money being paid out to the players, the number of games that would be played in the 2020 season has fluctuated with each new proposal. The players have proposed anywhere from a 114-game season to a 76-game season. Unfortunately, these financial issues appear to be too great to overcome.
The MLBPA has rejected the MLB’s most recent proposal and responded by demanding to know MLB’s plan and when players had to report by Monday, June 15th. It is on this date that Commissioner Rob Manfred would be forced to implement a “50-some odd game season.”
Once this situation eventually plays itself out, there would be one important question facing the league and fans everywhere: Is a shortened season even worth playing?
Professional baseball calls for a lengthy season with at least over four months of play required to get the most accurate results for its season. A regular MLB season consists of 162-games; a 55-game season is only about 34 percent of a 162-game season.
The majority of MLB teams had played around 55 games on May 29, 2019. After all games were completed, only three out of five teams that made the 2019 MLB playoffs were in a playoff spot. The eventual World Series Champion Washington Nationals held the third worst record in the National League at this time. In 2018, at the same point in the season, only five of the ten eventual playoff teams in 2018 were in a postseason spot.
Along with a shorter season possibly costing teams a chance at a championship, a short season takes away the beauty of baseball. The beauty of a baseball season is that it is an everyday grind spanning over half a calendar year.
Over this long period of time, teams face highs and lows that will either make them, break them, or mold them into a championship team. This grueling process is what sets baseball apart from all the other major sports.
If a shortened season does happen, there is a very good chance that the eventual champion will forever be remembered for winning during the shortened season. It is quite possible that the 2020 World Series champions will be thought of as illegitimate in a way like the 2017 Houston Astros are being viewed now.
A season shorter than 70 games would be a terrible thing for Major League Baseball. A league that has already missed a fantastic opportunity to grow its game to millions of young fans during the absence of sports has yet another chance to disappoint its remaining fans. At this point in negotiations, the league and its players should just cut their losses and focus on playing a full and successful season in the spring of 2021.
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