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Offishial news, 2/1/21: Possible season delay; Hall of Fame cleats, podcast

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The return of Miami Marlins baseball might be further away than expected.

Major League Baseball Suspends Spring Training Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

MLB, players’ union considering delayed season

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports was first to share on Sunday that Major League Baseball has sent a proposal to the MLB Players’ Association which would delay, shorten and condense the 2021 season. Multiple reports have since confirmed the particulars—154 games (instead of 162), spring training starting on Mar. 22 and Opening Day on Apr. 28, frequent doubleheaders in order to get those games in by Oct. 10, postseason expanded to 14 teams (instead of 10), and the continuation of many of 2020’s experimental rule changes.

The players will be responding in the coming days, either with a counteroffer or by flat-out rejecting the deal. Keep in mind that without an agreement between both sides, things would proceed as originally scheduled.

I think most rational people can agree that a delayed schedule seems appropriate. Pushing the season back one month would give sufficient time for millions of more Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and potentially allow teams in every MLB market to open their ballparks to limited fan attendance (the Marlins already intend to do so).

However, having these athletes abruptly pause their training programs, then get ramped up again to play, on average, approximately one game per day for the entire summer creates various health concerns. Plus an expanded postseason format lowers the standard required to be a championship contender and in turn disincentivizes teams from spending to construct deep rosters. Although expansion feels like an inevitability, the players want to save that bargaining chip for the upcoming CBA negotiations next year.

We’ll obviously be following this developing story closely. Expect more commentary on a new Fish Stripes podcast episode coming on Tuesday.

Walk-off links

  • Tickets for spring training games at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium were supposed to go on sale to the public beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Predictably, that process has now been delayed.
  • The Marlins opened the 2021 MLB international signing period on Jan. 15 by announcing deals with 11 players from four different countries. But they aren’t done yet, recently finalizing a contract with right-hander Jesús Zabaleta, their first Colombian player in this class.

  • Fellow Colombian Harold Ramirez is representing his country in the Caribbean Series. He went 1-for-4 with a double in Sunday’s loss to tournament host México. Next up: a matchup vs. Panamá on Monday afternoon.
  • Here is the first full episode of Big Hall Talk, Ethan Budowsky’s podcast series about Baseball Hall of Fame candidacies.