The MLB season will reportedly start on time after the Major League Players Association rejected a proposal from MLB to delay the start of the season. This decision means the season will kick off with a Feb. 17 spring training start and opening day on April 1. Much like the 2020 season, the MLBPA and Major League Baseball have been at war over the upcoming season’s logistics due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, MLB proposed a 154-game season that would expand the playoffs like last season and continue with the universal designated hitter. This deal also ensured players would get paid their regular salaries under a 162-game schedule but delayed spring training until March 22 and opening day to April 28.
The MLBPA battled hard last season to salvage an abbreviated season and have been adamant they would accept nothing less than a full season in 2021, especially with a better understanding of COVID-19 and necessary precautions.
According to reports, players also expressed concern over injuries as another driving factor to start the season on time. They reasoned pitchers especially would be at risk because many players have already begun preparing for spring training to begin in a couple of weeks.
It is also something to be said that despite an entire offseason of bargaining, MLB would just now decide to suggest a schedule change, just a couple of weeks before the usual start of spring training. Emotions have run high between the MLBPA and the league between 2020 and now, 2021, and this last-minute proposal could be further signs showing a strained relationship between MLB and its players.
At this point, both parties have yet to fully address what rules will be implemented this season. As mentioned, the Players Association rejected the offer from MLB that included the universal designated hitter and expanded playoffs and did not include any rule amendments with the accepted offer. As it stands, both of those rules, along with a runner on second during extra innings, seven-inning doubleheaders, and neutral sites during playoff games, are still up for discussion.
The only thing fans can be certain about in an offseason of the unknown, the season will officially start as planned.