You can finally start your pitchers and catchers report countdown.
According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association have both announced their intentions to stick with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and operate the 2021 season as normal.
Here’s what MLB said…
“We have announced the dates for the start of Spring Training and the Championship Season. As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”
And here’s what the PA said…
“As we’ve made clear to the league on multiple occasions, we expect Spring Training and the Regular Season to start on time and as scheduled, consistent with our CBA. The league does not have the authority or legal basis to unilaterally delay or shorten the schedule without Players’ consent. While there will continue to be challenges, our Players have proven they can safely play a season under difficult circumstances, as have the other sports. The Commissioner’s Office has assured us that they have instructed the Clubs to prepare for an on time start.”
A few weeks ago, there was talk that MLB wanted to delay the start of the season to May with the intention of getting as many players and personnel vaccinated as possible. This, of course, also would have increased the likelihood of fans being able to attend games in person in some cities.
There’s also obviously the between the lines situation for the league here, in which teams can save themselves some cash if the season is shortened again and player salaries get prorated. But, as Drellich points out, starting more beef with the players ahead of what looks to be a long, difficult CBA negotiation likely wouldn’t be worthwhile at this stage.
As we know, things can change quickly in the COVID-19 world, but this is a good sign. We should have spring training right around the corner.