At some point this week – perhaps on a call tomorrow as the owners also present an economic proposal – the players association will have to respond to the league’s 67-page proposal on health and safety for a 2020 MLB season.
The good news in what is available out there is that *for the most part*, health experts are on board with the plan, and players are supportive. This isn’t like when the Arizona Plan came out, and it was immediately flagellated by the players as unacceptable. A version of this plan can probably work.
But that doesn’t mean the players aren’t going to have feedback. Possibly significant feedback. And some of the teams, too, are going to seek some changes.
On the whole, there are a lot of considerations, but the two issues that are getting the most attention are pretty consistently related to testing and the restrictions placed on humans who are gonna human. In short, most involved are going to want to see daily testing (which we’ve said as far back as March), rather than simply multiple times per week, and most would like to see the restrictions at the ballpark loosened up a bit (which would make more sense if you had daily testing).
Testing is increasing rapidly, and MLB has coordinated to develop their own testing lab (which provides services not only for MLB but for the general public), so it’s not inconceivable that testing volume could be in a place by mid-to-late June where you can justify daily prophylactic testing for baseball players. It’s still TBD, though, and for that reason, it was probably difficult for the owners to codify in the proposal.
With daily testing, though, in theory you could allow the players a little more flexibility at the ballpark, including (importantly) the ability to use more of the training and medical/therapy facilities. That one has apparently gotten a lot of pushback from the players, who understandably see that as a health issue of its own. But there are also behaviors that are just going to be so hard, realistically, to police: high-fives, spitting, seeds, etc. Instead, it sounds like some are hoping the proposal can loosen up a bit on that stuff, with an emphasis instead on the hygiene, mask, and testing components.
We’ll see if there are further discussions this week, as expected.
UPDATE: Sure enough, the union was formally responded on the health and safety plan, and although the particulars aren’t out yet, these are the things they touched on in the response:
MLBPA has delivered its response to MLB’s health protocols. Includes notes on:
• Testing frequency
• Protocols for positive tests
• In-stadium medical personnel
• Protections for high-risk players and family
• Access to pre-, postgame therapies
• Sanitization protocols
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) May 21, 2020
I presume you’ll see changes to the testing protocols (frequency and how to manage positives), and then more flexibility with respect to the players’ ability to use on-site therapies/training facilities.