Rob Manfred Says MLB Camps Not Closing, Owners Still Hopeful for Full Schedule Despite Late Start

If ever there was a perfect time to use SureJan.gif, it would be as a response to Rob Manfred’s assertion that MLB owners are still hopeful that a full season can be played once baseball resumes. Following a conference call with owners and league execs Monday afternoon, which he attended from the Cardinals’ facility in Jupiter, FL, the commissioner clarified that spring training facilities would not be officially closed as had been previously believed.

Manfred said they are merely limiting informal workouts, though that was already made clear by a league memo that came out over the weekend. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier Monday that Cardinals players were packing up their gear and heading home, leading to the belief that camps were being closed, but it now seems as though almost everyone is merely heading home.

When you get right down to it, this may as well be a closure. The players union issued a memo of its own to agents Monday to advise them that transactions would be frozen until play resumes and that players who choose to leave camp would continue to receive a weekly allowance of $1,100 through the previous proposed start date of April 9. Just in case you weren’t already aware, that Opening Day ain’t happening.

“We are not going to start on April 9,” Mr. Obvious offered as he left the conference call.

MLB is expected to make recommendations to teams regarding the compensation of game-day and part-time staff, all of whom will be without work for what figures to be another two months at minimum.

“It’s not a situation you want to be in,” Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller told Ben Frederickson of the Post-Dispatch. “It’s going to be a while I think. I’ve heard June 1. I’ve heard Memorial Day. Some people think later than that. That discussion is going to be interesting.”

What Manfred said about getting in a full season isn’t surprising at all, because of course they want to keep as much revenue as possible. More than that, they feel the need to portray a Chip Diller-ish sense of calm authority at a time when nothing seems to be known. Behind the scenes, however, they’re absolutely working on a variety of scenarios that could include halving the season to 81 games.

I’d say the commissioner has almost achieved his goal of killing baseball, but that would be giving him too much credit for the impact coronavirus has had on the world in general. This whole situation is like catching a greased pig right now, so we’ll just keep on churning out info as it becomes available.

Update: The statement released by MLB following the conference call seemed to indicate a much more practical understanding of the situation than what Manfred laid out. While acknowledging a commitment to playing as many games as possible, the statement noted that MLB would push the start of the season back in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines about restricting public gatherings of 50 or more people.

That means getting ramped back up by mid-May and finishing a full season at some point in December. Such a scenario is completely out of the question.

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