For as long as Major League Baseball's season is delayed by the spread of the coronavirus, it seems likely that new proposals and ideas will be leaked in the press. A handful of proposals have been discussed, and MLB's proposal will include expanded rosters, approximately 80 games with the regular season starting in July, and will feature an expanded postseason.. It's expected that
The major points of contention are assumed to be the health precautions proposed by the league, as well as the owners' demands that the players take additional pay cuts to balance out the lost gate revenue.
Here are four other developments that will need to be addressed before Opening Day can happen.
1. Testing, testing, testing
We noted this when the proposal du jour was the "Arizona Plan," and it remains true.
MLB needs to be able to test the players, the coaches, the front office executives, and any number of other, largely anonymous groups of people -- the hotel workers, the clubhouse workers, and so on -- who are necessary in order for a baseball season to occur.
The most obvious potential snag is the availability of testing for the coronavirus. If every team tests each player on the 26-man roster daily, then that would mean MLB is burning through more than 20,000 tests a month -- and that's without including coaches, trainers, scouts, executives, grounds crew, umpires or anyone else who might come into contact with those individuals. The state of Arizona, as a whole, has thus far administered just more than 33,000 tests.
Even if MLB doesn't test everyone on a daily basis, it's still looking at an uphill battle to make the numbers work.
A month and some change later, the state of Arizona is over 128,000 tested. That isn't the kind of increase that suggests MLB will (or should) be able to secure large quantities of testing for its own use. More progress can be expected over the coming weeks, but it's unclear if it'll be enough.
2. Improved hygiene standards
We think MLB should be taking notes on what the Korea Baseball Organization has done at the start of its season, especially on the hygiene front.
KBO is requiring every player to have their temperature taken twice daily. On top of that, they've banned spitting and barehanded high fives, and have encouraged players to wear masks and gloves when they aren't in the dugout or on the field. (Non-playing personnel are also being tasked with wearing personal protective equipment.)
MLB would be wise to implement similar provisions.
3. Contingency plans
Another note MLB should borrow from KBO: having a contingency plan in place. If/when a player tests positive for COVID-19 in Korea, that individual will be quarantined and the league will shut down for three weeks.
It stands to reason that at some point, MLB will have to face a reality wherein a player has contracted the coronavirus. What happens then -- does the league quarantine that player, and hope for the best? Will play be suspended? Will the season be canceled?
We don't know the answers, but the league better before it hits launch on any season.
4. Other logistics
Should MLB and the union agree to all of the above, there's still other things they need to hammer out. What the schedule looks like; if there will be any travel during the regular season; where postseason games will be played; and so on and so forth until the cows come home.
At a time when league sources are expressing confidence, to CBS Sports and others, that a 2020 season will happen, there's clearly a good deal of work that needs to be done before that optimism can manifest in games.