Per multiple reports, discussions yesterday between MLB and the players about a return to the game focused primarily on logistics and health/safety concerns.
With a huge document about to be submitted to the players on the subject, we are now getting just a little bit in the way of details about those health and safety protocols:
MLB safety protocols: Must finish postseason before second wave of COVID-19 hits nation https://t.co/e9zt9wtOuf— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) May 13, 2020
Among the safety elements you’d expect to see: no ride-sharing, no autographs, no high-fives, no spitting, etc. The particulars of testing are still not quite clear (we don’t yet know what testing will be like in a month), but you can presume it’s going to be significant and regular, together with close symptom monitoring (for example, temperature checks before coming into the park).
But, interestingly, Nightengale’s piece more closely focuses on the way that the health considerations are not entirely disconnected from the financial considerations. Specifically, he talks about the risk of a “second wave” of the virus, after the summer and maybe late in the fall, crushing the postseason just as it is getting under way. That would mean no postseason TV dollars, which is upwards of 15 to 20% of MLB’s revenues in a normal year. This year? It could be as much as half of what they expect to bring in.
It started to feel like this over the weekend, and now it seems pretty clear: the owners’ primary reason for wanting a revenue share model is specifically because of the risk that the postseason gets shut down and that national revenue goes away. My guess is that MLB is concerned if they proceed under the previous agreement (players get paid full pro-rated salaries based on regular season games), because it clearly didn’t contemplate doing all the regular season – and incurring all the costs – and then not getting the postseason revenue that comes without those costs. Increasingly, it seems like there was a lot not properly contemplated in that previous agreement ….
In any case, you’re left with the league wanting to ensure its season is entirely wrapped up by the first week in November, which means there *is* now urgency to get the season started as soon as possible. That part, well, I sure don’t love that part.
I look forward to hearing more about the health and safety protocols that will align with this desire to get the regular season underway by early July, and get the postseason finished by the first week of November.