With the NBA and NHL finalizing plans to return this summer, Major League Baseball is trending dangerously close to causing irreversible damage to its reputation. As players and owners continue to make zero progress in negotiating a potential 2020 season, some insiders around the league are growingly increasingly pessimistic that there will be baseball this year.
ESPN reporter Tim Kurkjian was the latest to join this unsettling bandwagon. During an appearance on the "Baseball Tonight" podcast this week, Kurkjian disclosed that the lack of real negotiating makes him "believe more than ever" that the MLB season will be canceled.
"I was actually mildly optimistic earlier this week when I recognized that MLB is determined to play a season of some kind and that Rob Manfred, one way or another, would figure out a way for this to happen, because he understands the dangers and the damage when you don't play a season or miss a significant portion," said Kurkjian. "I actually thought things were going to move in the right direction, they were going to talk the players into playing fewer games, get the full prorated, play a full postseason, and be done before a next virus comes."
This is infuriating when you consider the opportunity that MLB is essentially throwing away. The original plan was to have play resume in early July. That would give baseball almost a month of being the lone American sport that was nationally televised. For a sport that has the oldest fan base in the country, a 2020 season could work wonders in terms of winning over the hearts of casual fans.
As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic notes, that timetable is likely no longer feasible now. Throw in the report that some star players are pondering sitting out a truncated campaign, and baseball diehards should probably throw any optimism they previously had out the window.