As Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association continue negotiating plans for a modified season around the spread of COVID-19, the amount of games has become a point of contention. The players' proposal called for a 114-game schedule with the postseason being played in November.earlier this week by team owners, who have a preference for getting to the postseason quickly.
Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick expressed confidence on Tuesday that MLB will not be playing games into November during a radio interview with Burns and Gambo. Here's what Kendrick said, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan:
We don't want to take the risk of putting our players at jeopardy and our game in peril to be playing games beyond the end of October. So our model is and will never be changed that we will not be playing baseball in the month of November or later.
Agent Scott Boras responded to Kendrick's comments, telling The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, "The NFL and college football – contact sports – could be playing in November, let alone December. MLB, a social distancing sport, says it can't play playoffs in November. Apparently the NFL and NCAA medical experts think differently."
Earlier in the pandemic, it had been suggested that MLB could consider stretching the postseason into November. Under that scenario, playoff games would have been hosted at neutral sites in warm-weather markets. That option does not appear to be on the table, or, at least, isn't the option the owners desire.
Rather, MLB seems concerned about the potential for a second wave of coronavirus infections as the winter and the typical flu season approach. Given how much the owners value the revenue from their playoff television deals, it's perhaps not surprising that they would want to ensure the World Series has a high likelihood of being completed.
Of course, by setting a hard cutoff for the season, the owners are necessitating that every passing week without an agreement is one fewer potential week of regular season games. If they're serious about playing as few as 50-something games, they could manufacture that by drawing out the negotiation process deeper into the summer.