The best thing that many baseball fans are looking forward to regarding the upcoming season is that there will actually be one.
That’s because, up until early March, many feared the whole season would be delayed or even canceled due to a stalemate in contract discussions between owners and players.
Owners locked out players and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred canceled opening day. Spring training was also canceled. Both sides seemed pretty well dug in for a long wait.
But the crisis was averted, nearly at the last minute. MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement for this season as well as the next five years.
Now that everything is finalized with contracts, all the MLB team organizations are scrambling to figure out their schedules, coordinate with other teams, as well as make sure there are veteran players plus any newcomers on the roster due to free agency.
It would certainly be a logistical challenge if even one team had to start this late and under these circumstances, but in this case, every team in the entire league is facing identical pressures to get everything in place and play ball by April 8.
Some are seeing this situation as something new and dynamic. The second longest contract discussion could lead to players moving to unexpected teams, and a renewed interest in watching every game, whether you’re a basic fan or even an owner.
Larry Baer, CEO and President of the San Francisco Giants, anticipates interest from prospects around the country who he hopes will help form a strong team. He also hopes that trades and draft picks that were made last year will pan out well this year. Plan to see a game like the Giants vs Dodgers, and hold your breath, hoping that the team’s recent moves and draft picks will pay off.
The Giants finalized a contract spanning three years for Anthony DeSclafani, and a similar contract with Alex Wood. Alex Cobb, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, has signed with Giants as a pitcher.
Larry Baer said the uncertainty and fast-tracking to get the team prepared to play with a tight deadline can be seen as a great thing especially for free agency.
He predicts that the Giants will be pretty aggressive in trying to negotiate and make the team appealing to players seeking new organizations to play for.
Then there’s the scheduling. To make up for the late start and make up for lost game days, the league plans doubleheaders to make up for two missed series, along with three extra days at the end of the regular season.
Although the April 8 season opening game is scheduled at home, the disruptive schedule has also forced San Francisco to cancel the popular Bay Bridge Series, where the Giants face off against the Oakland As.
There will also be a modified, faster spring training. It typically gives players on a chance to meet new and old teammates and stretch their muscles. So now, some of the typical pre-season warm-ups may have to be part of the regular season, or new members may rotate in as the team is practicing.
For more on the SF Giants, watch this recent interview with Larry Baer discussing Opening Day.