Major League Baseball is doing everything they can to come up with a plan to avoid a lost 2020 season, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to throw everything in doubt. Their most recent discussions reportedly involve a wild scenario where the season would take place entirely in Arizona, would require players and staff to remain in quarantine for 4 1/2 months and include such possibilities as robot umpires and seven-inning games.
The plan has taken a significant amount of heat since coming to light, with much of the public pointing to the inherent risk and moral issues it presents. But there’s another issue that could actually prove to be the deal-breaker according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today: A little thing called money.
The first deal-breaker, before the two sides even start talking about logistical concerns that would fill the Grand Canyon, is money. The players, by agreeing to sacrifice their health and willingness to be away from their families for at least four months, would want to be paid their full salary, at least a pro-rated share of their remaining salary for the games missed.
Sorry — two MLB owners told USA TODAY Sports they would never approve any deal if there are no fans without requiring players to take a significant pay cut – perhaps as much as 40%. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the talks. With no fans in the stands, no parking revenue and no concessions, that wipes out about $4 billion of the $10.7 billion in revenue MLB generated last year.
From the players perspective something’s got to give. If the owners are going to ask them to make such a sacrifice, there has to be a financial incentive. Without that, it’s hard to fathom how the plan as currently constructed could work, especially considering the financial burden that the clubs now find themselves in.
The only realistic solution may revolve around waiting until it is safe to play baseball as we have become accustomed to, and that may mean waiting a very long time until it returns.