By Patrick Kelly
At this time, each professional sports league that had its season stopped or delayed is in their own form of negotiations, but the NHL and NBA have formally put forward a plan to finish out their 2020 seasons with baseball still in the unknown because of disagreements over the number of games to be played and how much the players will be paid.
Out of the four major sports, the NHL has been at the forefront of pushing forward with a plan to play. A few weeks ago, commissioner Gary Bettman laid out a plan for a 24-team playoff that would start in late July or early August. The NHL recently moved into Phase 2 of coming back with teams holding team workouts for small groups of players. The NHL also announced that training camps for teams (Phase 3) would start July 10, which is right on schedule for where they want to be for the postseason. The hub cities are yet to be announced, but the biggest rumored cities are Las Vegas and Edmonton given the amount of ice sheets and hotels that could be used to accommodate players. Once the games start, the NHL wants the Stanley Cup to be awarded within 60 days, which is just below the normal allotted time for the regular playoffs.
The NHL and NBA have always been two leagues that walk in stride and this situation is no different. Shortly after the NHL announced their return to play plan, the NBA released a similar 22-team return to play that will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Unlike the NHL, the NBA will finish out some of the regular season to not only decide the final playoff spots but also give every player a chance to get back into some kind of playing shape for the playoffs. The games are scheduled to start on July 31 with training camp starting in the next few weeks before leaving after a week for Orlando where the players will be quarantined.
UPDATE- On Monday June 22nd the MLBPA denied the MLBs proposal of a 60-game season with an expanded playoff in a vote of 33-5. It appears time has ran out on negotiations. The MLB is now expected to vote on their own 50-60 game season with the owners needing a 75% majority to approve the plan.
Every time a scandal makes its way across baseball, it always seems like whatever is happening is bad, but then the MLB’s response is somehow worse and digs a bigger hole. That’s what it seems the MLB and MLBPA have been doing over the past months as they try and lay out a plan to start their season. With both sides at a standstill and making it clear that neither side is budging, it now appears commissioner Rob Manfred can completely force the players into playing a season of 50 or fewer games since the players refuse to take more of a pay cut. Like the other leagues, the MLB needs to get on the field quickly and then finish before winter to prevent a second wave. With doors closing on both sides, the window for them to play is getting much harder and it will either lead to no baseball in 2020 or players backing out of the season because they aren’t getting what they feel they are worth.
Of all the leagues to get underway, the MLS has definitely found a more unique way to go about their season. They will hold a full 26-team tournament that will start July 8 and end August 11 with a total of 26 match days. The setup will be much like it is for the big soccer tournaments around the world with six groups of four and one group with six. There will be 54 total matches between the group and knockout stage. The top two leaders in each division and the top four third-place finishers will move into the knockout stage where a champion will be crowned who will then be eligible for the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.