MLB Owners Approve Plan to Start Season in July without Spectators

Major League Baseball’s 30 owners approved a plan to begin the baseball season in early July, with the proposal now heading to the player’s union for approval amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Games would be played without fans to start, with each team playing around 82 regular-season games, inter-division and interleague matchups based on geographical proximity, according to The Associated Press. The playoffs would also be expanded to include 14 teams, by adding two additional wild cards for both the American and National leagues.

Other facets of the plan include the likely cancellation of the All Star Game, which was originally scheduled to take place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 14, as well as the establishment of the designated hitter in the National League. Rosters would also be expanded from 26 to 30 players.

A likely point of contention between the owners and the players’ union, which will hear the proposal on Tuesday, is that players would only receive their cut of a 50-50 revenue split with the league, rather than their normal negotiated salaries.

The MLB would still require medical and government approvals to play games, with the prospect that some teams could be forced to play in their spring-training stadiums or neutral sites to avoid ongoing lockdowns.

A number of states have already begun to reopen, with New York, the hardest hit state in the country, announcing that it would begin a phased pull-back of its lockdowns on May 15.

“The decline has gotten to a point where we are just about where we started the journey,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday. “We have abated the worst by what we’ve done, and now we can intelligently turn to reopening.”

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