Chicago Cubs: Significant hurdles remain if baseball is to played in 2020

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

If the Chicago Cubs are to take the field in 2020, the Player’s Association and Major League Baseball will have to overcome several key obstacles.

While at first glance Monday’s news about Major League Baseball owners approving a plan that would bring baseball back this summer seems promising, it’s not all roses and sunshine – especially if you’re looking at things from the point of the MLBPA.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the owners approved a proposal that will be put in front of the MLB Player’s Association on Tuesday. Said proposal has a ton of moving parts – and there’s likely aspects that haven’t been leaked to the media yet. So depending on when you read this, there’s a good chance the landscape may have shifted already.

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Let’s dive in.

Here’s what the 2020 Major League Baseball season could look like:

  • A shortened 82-game regular season schedule in which teams only play opponents in their respective division and the corresponding division in the other league. In other words, the Chicago Cubs would battle their usual NL Central foes, along with the American League East.
  • The postseason would look different, expanding from 10 to 14 teams, meaning that just under half of the league would play beyond the regular season in 2020.
  • A second spring training would kick off some time in June, with baseball returning likely in early July. No fans would be in attendance at any of these games – and fans’ attendance at any point this season seems like a long-shot at this point in time. Games would be played in team’s home stadiums, rather than alternative sites.
  • The designated hitter would not only be played in games hosted by American League clubs, but the DH would come to the National League as well. Who might be the Cubs’ designated hitter? Time will tell. 

The more contentious points come down to player health, testing and prevention when it comes to COVID-19 and profit sharing between owners and the MLBPA. The revenue question has been a major sticking point between the two sides to this point – and will likely remain so. In short, owners look at the situation as follows: players are playing half a season and there’s zero revenue from fans attending games. Hence, players should help shoulder the immense financial burden.

"“We want to put a good product on the field, but that’s totally secondary to the health of the players,” Cardinals lefty and MLBPA executive board member Andrew Miller said.  “We are generally younger and healthier, but that doesn’t mean our staff is, that doesn’t mean the umpires are going to be in the clear.  It’s not hard to get one degree of separation away from players who have kids who may have conditions, or other family members that live with them.”"

Of course, for the Cubs, players like Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo, both of whom are cancer survivors, taking steps to not contract COVID-19 is a bit more complicated. Health remains the top concern for players around the league – and MLB’s proposal will have to satiate that demand if baseball is to be played in 2020.

Safety remains top of mind for players across the sport. dark. Next

Again, this is just some of the nuts and bolts that have come out in the media. This will continue to evolve over the next day or so. Tomorrow could go a long way in determining whether or not we see baseball at all this year or if we’ll be on hold until (at least) 2021.