Nearly two weeks have passed since Major League Baseball suspended operations due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Opening Day 2020, which had been scheduled for this Thursday (March 26), will now take place later in the year, with the exact date hinging on the effectiveness of the containment strategies imposed across the country.
Predictably, the delayed season has created logistical complications pertaining to player compensation, service time calculations, and potential schedule alterations. The league and union continue to negotiate on those matters, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan.
Passan has many, many more details from the negotiations than we’ll note here, including the potential that teams will cut staff heading into May, but we’ll hit on the important takeaways.
1. Both sides hopeful for June start
The best-case scenario for the baseball season appears to be an early June launch. The league and union are said to be hopeful that can happen. Whether or not that proves to be overly optimistic is to be determined. Recall that team executives have already noted the necessity of a four-week ramp-up period — a second spring training, in essence — so pitchers can stretch out their arms. Under the early June scenario, that would mean camps resuming in early May.
2. Players open to doubleheaders
For as long as the start date remains in limbo, it’ll be impossible to get a feel for how many games will be on the table. Passan has talked to numerous players who would be willing to play up to two doubleheaders a week as a way of fattening the schedule. That, plus entertaining empty-stadium games and running the regular season into October, would permit the league its fullest year. For perspective on how many games would be lost if the year does kick off on June 1, consider that last year the Washington Nationals played their 58th game on that date.
3. League has pledged advances
The other most obvious question is how will be compensated and what would happen if the 2020 campaign has to be canceled. Per Passan, the league has pledged an advance of more than $150 million to be split by the union. An important consideration is that the money “would not be repaid to the league in the event of a canceled season.” Should the season be played in any form, the players would likely be paid a prorated amount of their salaries.
The fallout here means that one huge name, Mookie Betts, could hit free agency without having ever played a game for the Dodgers. It also would move Francisco Lindor and Kris Bryant to within one year of free agency instead of two regardless of what happens to the 2020 season.
Why would league owners agree to this? Sherman has some details:
Let’s grasp onto point number two. The best guess is the owners believe there will be a season. They can prorate service time to go with percentages. That is, if they play 100 games and a player gets called up from the minors and appears in 75 games, he’ll get 75 percent service time, which would equal roughly 122 games in a full season.
The Champions League is back with a couple of matches on both Friday and Saturday, but this is the best of them.
When the full-time whistle blew in Madrid, City could have been further in front, by three or four goals. So Real still have a chance and that is the sad part, as I would like to see City get through.
Real have recaptured La Liga, but when I looked at what Pep Guardiola was doing when he was chopping and changing his City team, he was doing it too often for me. He is trying to get minutes into their legs, but his team for the FA Cup semi-final – when Arsenal beat them – did not play as well as City can play.
If you are taking a risk like this for the Champions League, you make it a big risk. For the last 10 days or so, Pep will have been working on shape, especially with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and then Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez. Does he utilise Mahrez to tease and torment Marcelo as he will not like it? But Mahrez will not like defending against Marcelo, so there will be lots to think about.
This tie is far from over and Madrid can comeback and hurt you big time as we have seen before. Pep knows how to get Real on the wrong foot and I think he will prove that again.
He played a false nine in Madrid and there is a possibility that this could happen again, with De Bruyne playing in that position. Gabriel Jesus has scored a few, but he is easier to mark. Sterling can threaten in behind Sergio Ramos to expose him too, so I am hopeful for City, but I do see both teams scoring goals.
For that reason, I am looking at a five-goal thriller. This is the build up to a real exciting Champions League campaign. Madrid will go for it and City can – and will – pick them off.
This will be comfortable for Bayern, who have Robert Lewandowski leading the line. The Poland striker was the top goalscorer in Europe and given Chelsea’s suspect defence, I do not give them much hope.
It is a success story getting into the top four, I do not disagree with that, but you could see their vulnerabilities in the run-in and in the FA Cup final. Frank Lampard wants to play attacking, and on the front foot football, but you have to be assured at the back and they are not. Whether that is a back three or a back four, it does not work, while they also have problems in the wide areas.
Meanwhile, a few Chelsea players know they might be leaving this summer – Olivier Giroud, Willian and Jorginho could all be departing, alongside a few others. For that reason, it does not put you in a good place going into these situations. They will go out and go out tamely and this season is over for Chelsea, with it being a comfortable contest for Bayern.
ATLANTA (AP) — Nick Markakis capped his first start of the season with a game-ending home run in the ninth inning that lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
Days after opting back into the season after stepping away due to coronavirus concerns, Markakis lined the one-out homer off Wilmer Font (0-1) that carried into the restaurant behind the right-field stands.
Markakis was added to the active roster on Wednesday after changing his mind about sitting out the year.
Following the homer, Braves players circled home plate with plenty of distance, waving their hands in the air as Markakis finished his trot.
Mark Melancon (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth.
Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the first off Toronto rookie Nate Pearson.
Bo Bichette hit a homer in the fourth for the Blue Jays.
Right-hander Touki Toussaint gave the depleted Atlanta rotation a boost by setting career highs with his 6 2/3 innings and nine strikeouts.
Toussaint left the game with a 3-2 lead, but Blue Jays pinch-hitter Teoscar Hernández singled up the middle off Tyler Matzek to drive in Rowdy Tellez to tie the game. Toussaint gave up four hits and three runs with no walks.
Pearson, making his second start, allowed three runs on two hits in five innings.
Marcell Ozuna didn’t look happy when a 96 mph fastball from Pearson sailed above his head in the fourth. Ozuna answered by lining a single to left field with an exit velocity of 110 mph.
Ozuna moved to second on Pearson’s wild pitch to Nick Markakis, whose grounder to first advanced Ozuna to third. Adam Duvall’s fly ball to left field drove in Ozuna for a 3-1 lead.
An apparent roster snafu forced the Toronto Blue Jays to change their pitching plans in the game.
The team optioned right-hander Jacob Waguespack to the team’s alternate training site before the game to reach the 28-man roster limit. Manager Charlie Montoyo said before the game Waguespack was recalled when right-hander Trent Thornton was placed on the 10-day injured list.
That move apparently was not made official, leaving Waguespack off the active roster. Montoyo tried to bring in Waguespack to open the sixth. Following a chat with home plate umpire Alan Porter, Waguespack left the field without making a pitch and Montoyo instead brought in Rafael Dolis.
The Braves activated LHP Will Smith from his rehabilitation assignment. Smith, who signed a $39 million, three-year deal, missed the summer camp following a positive test for the coronavirus.
OF Scott Schebler was designated for assignment while RHP Chad Sobotka and C Alex Jackson were optioned to the club’s alternate training site as the team reduced its roster to 28 players. The Braves outrighted LHP Chris Rusin, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, to the alternate site.
Blue Jays: Thornton has right elbow inflammation and won’t make Saturday’s scheduled start at Boston. Montoyo hasn’t named a fill-in starter for Thornton, who allowed one run in four innings and received no decision in his first start at Washington on July 27. INF Santiago Espinal was optioned to the alternate training site.
Braves: Smith was activated instead of pitching in a simulated game at the team’s alternate site, as had been planned. “He was raring to go so shoot, why not give him a real inning?” said manager Brian Snitker. “A guy with his experience, if he tells us he’s good and ready to go then I trust him.”
Blue Jays: RHP Tanner Roark (1-0, 1.80) will start as Toronto opens a weekend series at Boston against RHP Ryan Weber (0-2, 11.57).
Braves: RHP Kyle Wright (0-1, 7.50), whose role becomes more important following ace starter Mike Soroka’s season-ending injury this week, will face RHP Vince Velasquez (0-0, 12.00) in the opening game of a four-game series at Philadelphia. It is the start of Atlanta’s nine-game road trip.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.