The good news: Major League Baseball and its players still are talking with each other. As long as the sides are trying to reach agreement on when, how and under what financial terms to get a coronavirus-shortened 2020 season off the ground, chances are good baseball will happen.
If it doesn’t, the fallout might be devastating for the sport.
For what it’s worth, Cubs president Theo Epstein said Monday his team is ‘‘well-positioned’’ to hit the ground running if management and players come together soon — and soon they must if the season is going to start in early July.
According to Epstein, a ‘‘spring training’’ reboot would last at least three weeks. That makes each day until then critical.
‘‘The coaching staff and the support staff and our players have done a terrific job of staying ready, staying flexible and staying in communication,’’ he said.
But the bad-news vibe surrounding it all continued, as MLB proposed a package for a 76-game regular season that the MLB Players Association likely won’t accept. The MLBPA was given until Wednesday to give a formal response, though initial tweets such as Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen’s simple, straightforward ‘‘LOL’’ didn’t provide fans much hope.
Under MLB’s latest proposal, players would receive 50% of their prorated salaries for the regular season, with a bonus pool of $443 million — contingent on the completion of the playoffs — taking them up to about 75% of their prorated salaries.
The playoff field also would be expanded from 10 teams to as many as 16.
Players have held firm on receiving 100% of their prorated salaries for however many games are played, which was part of an agreement reached with management in March. But the prospect of holding games in empty ballparks has changed the calculus for owners, some of whom are infamous for crying poor.
The most recent proposal from the union called for a 114-game schedule at full prorated pay, with a regular season that would run through October. MLB, concerned about a potential second wave of the coronavirus costing it all-important broadcast revenue, wants the regular season to be over by the end of September.
As critical time melts away, the possibility of a very short season — approximately 50 games, with no playoffs — increases, or so some in the industry are saying. It’s difficult to imagine that going over any way other than very poorly with fans of the sport.