At this moment, if anyone says they know definitively when Major League Baseball is returning, take it with a grain of salt. The truth is, while there have been many dates floating around, it all remains to be speculation.
What is certain is plans are floating around to bring baseball back. The necessary people are having conversations, developing policies and standards, and ball clubs are preparing for an eventual return.
But the exact date on when the season begins and when sports betting can resume is still a mystery.
Early July is possible
The MLB Players Union received a proposal from Commissioner Rob Manfred that was approved by team owners, which would have baseball back by early July.
That lengthy proposal would reshape the MLB landscape with new rules, new financial stipulations, and a list of safety and health standards. The 2020 MLB season depends on both sides overcoming the financial roadblocks that are the current topic of discussion.
Portions of the plan include:
- A shortened 82 game season
- 14 team playoff
- June spring training
- Universal DH (designated hitter)
- Geographical schedules for teams
Safety protocols will change baseball
A 67-page draft of the MLB’s health-and-safety manual, obtained by ESPN, outlines new procedures that will change baseball during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new rules were written by MLB senior vice presidents Patrick Houlihan, Bryan Seeley and Chris Young, and VP Jon Coyles.
While portions of the document are missing, there are a few details to share, including:
- No high-fives, fist-bumps or hugging.
- No spitting, tobacco or chewing sunflower seeds.
- First-and-third base coaches cannot approach baserunners or umpires.
- Players should not socialize with opponents.
- Processing more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week.
Teams have been asked to respond to the proposal by Friday, May 22, with input.
Should a proposal of this magnitude be implemented, it would be a drastic change from the baseball played pre-pandemic. Discussions continue, but there are only 11 days left before the proposed start of spring training 2.0.