If the MLBPA has any say, it will be a full 162 games for full pay. MLB reached out to the players union, asking them if they would be open to a shortened season in 2021 that might lop off at least the first month of the season. The immediate response was absolutely not. A big fat NO! MLBPA Executive director former Yankee Tony Clark reiterated what he saidÂ at the end of the season, “the players are planning for a 162-game season and plan to show up for spring training on time.”
The beginning of the season and how long it will be has yet to be ironed out, along with many other 2020 rule changes as to whether they will be continued. Not the least is if there will be a universal DH in 2021 and if they will keep the man on second base after nine innings. At the end of this year, the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire after the 2021 season. The MLBPA is not going to seem weak, going into those negotiations. They will want to hold firm for everything they want for the 2021 season.
The CBA is the negotiated agreement that governs almost every aspect of the working relationship between management (the clubs) and labor (the players). While we’ve had a long run of labor peace in baseball — the sport has gone without a labor stoppage since 1995 — there’s reason to fear that may end with the next round of negotiations. At another time closer to the negotiation I will explain the complex issues involved.
But for now, the details of the 2021 season have to be ironed out, and for owners, it’s not starting well with the denial of playing a full season of games in 2021. In a USA Today story this week, team owners were quoted as skeptical that a full-length season could be completed.
“We’ve seen anonymous quotes attributed to club sources casting doubt on the start date and length of the season, “Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA’s senior director of collective bargaining and legal, said in a statement on Tuesday. “To be clear and ass we’ve made clear to the league, players are planning on showing up on time for spring training and for a full 162-game season as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and the leagues previously issued schedule.”
If you recall, the length of the MLB 2020 season and how much baseball players would be paid caused long and tense negotiations before Commissioner Rob Manfred mandated the 60 game season. There is no reason to expect anything different before this upcoming season. With so much unknown about the 2021 season, don’t expect any of these issues to be decided by spring training in the headlights. There are so many unknowns from the effect the coronavirus will have on the season, if fans will be in the stands, how successful the hopeful vaccines will be, and if players will be required to take the vaccines. Much more to come on this and many other MLB subjects in the weeks to come.
EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.