As expected, the Major League Baseball Players Association totally rejected an MLB proposal to delay the 2021 season by a month, instead committing to the previous announced February start to spring training.
In a statement issued last night, the players association outright rejected every aspect of the MLB proposal made over the weekend. Under the terms of the MLB plan, spring training would be delayed by a month, with spring training launching on March 22 and the regular season beginning April 28 and ending Oct. 10, a week later than the current schedule. The current schedule has pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training around Feb. 16-17 and exhibition games beginning Feb. 27, with the regular season beginning April 1.
From a statement issued by the MLBPA:
The MLBPA Executive Board and Player leadership reviewed and discussed the owners’ proposal throughout the weekend and today. The clear-cut result of these deliberations is that Players will not accept MLB’s proposal, will instead continue preparations for an on-time start to the 2021 season, and will accept MLB’s commitment to again direct its Clubs to prepare for an on-time start.
We do not make this decision lightly. Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and we appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead. We look forward to promptly finalizing enhanced health and safety protocols that will help Players and Clubs meet these challenges.
So what do we know? That spring training will indeed begin this month–this is a move confirmed by MLB:
Our 2020 season taught us that when the nation faces crisis, the national game is as important as ever, and there is nothing better than playing ball. We were able to complete a 2020 season through Herculean efforts and sacrifices made by our players, Club staff and MLB staff to protect one another. We will do so again, together, as we work towards playing another safe and entertaining season in 2021.
Now, this will be far from a normal spring training: teams are planning on reduced capacities, COVID-19 mitigation measures, and little to no interaction with fans. As we reported yesterday, for instance, the Pittsburgh Pirates are planning for approximately 25 percent capacity throughout the ballpark, with tickets being made available in seating pod allotments of two and four per transaction. All seating arrangements are being made in accordance with health and safety protocols with the recommended six feet distance between pods throughout the ballpark. Season-ticket holders will have first crack at buying single-game tickets.