MLB: Who really controls the 2020 baseball season? MLB, MLBPA, find out

William Parlee

The New York Yankees and all of MLB want to have a baseball season this year and sooner than later.  With the baseball team owners approving a play that would start baseball around the 1st of July, the vote today by the Players Association will determine if that will happen any time soon—but looking at all this drama, who really controls the reins of baseball?

It’s not MLB, and it’s not the players union either.  The coronavirus is the head of this committee.  Secondly, the governors and city mayors have the final say as to if their will be baseball or not.  Or when baseball can safely start in their respective confines.  MLB can say anything they want, but NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has already said that there will be no baseball at Yankee Stadium until August at the earliest.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put it a bit more bluntly in a statement.

“While it breaks my heart that I can’t watch my White Sox play (and okay, the Cubs too), the health and safety of our residents must come first,” she said. “This means placing a hold on activities which attract large crowds until we are confident in our ability to prevent the spread of Covid-19. While I believe the MLB is working on creative ways to address these public health concerns, for now, this means that Chicago isn’t playing.”

Chicago isn’t playing, says the mayor of Chicago. Any questions?

Other teams won’t be rushing the start of baseball as well, teams like the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds where Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio has said to the Dayton Daily News:

“The leagues are gonna have to come up with a plan, which I know they’re going to, and assuming that plan makes sense, I can certainly see baseball being played this summer in Cleveland and Cincinnati,” he said.

But also said that control of the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio would have the deciding vote as to when baseball can start.  He added that games would only take place if social distancing can be maintained and with a proposal that would keep players and Stadium workers safe.

In New York, although de Blasio is pessimistic, Governor Andrew Cuomo was a bit more optimistic saying to ABC7:

“But if players could get paid more than staying home and owners would get some revenue versus total shutdown, why not? I’d love to watch.” Cuomo says he has spoken with owners of professional sports teams, but he did not identify which ones. They would have to make the economics work without gate revenue but with broadcast revenue. “It would have to be up to them, that they do an economic analysis that says, yeah, some revenue is better than no revenue, and my players are willing to negotiate a contract reduction,” Cuomo said. “Everybody has to think outside the box, right? Because there is no box.”

Governor Cuomo has been a leader in keeping New York residents as safe as possible during the coronavirus.  Even though he made the optimistic statement above, you can be sure he will let the progress of the virus guide him in a decision that will likely come between the mayor and the governor as to whether baseball will be allowed in Yankee Stadium.

If MLB and MLBPA can come to an agreement on a plan for baseball this season, you can be sure they will find a way to work around regional or locally imposed restrictions.  There is no question that there are hurdles to be overcome in the three big baseball hubs, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.