Talks are underway to bring baseball back after the start of the season was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. It would behoove owners and players to reach a compromise and play this summer. John Bazemore/Associated Press

After the first trip to my barber in three months, I returned home to an email from my pastor, with news of a limited reopening next week. My son’s college announced that its campus will be open in August.

Slowly, we are getting back to some sort of routine.

And baseball?

Pay attention this week. If Major League Baseball is to resume playing – with an 80-games schedule, at least – then negotiations with the players’ union in the coming days are crucial. The reason is simple: time.

The season needs to start in July – and how apropos would it be to begin on July 4 weekend?

Players need at least two to three weeks to get ready – actually more, but MLB can fudge that necessity with expanded rosters. So, “camps” need to open by mid-June. And won’t it be nice to hear “pitchers and catchers report.”

Players have to get to spring/summer training, with travel plans and logistics to be worked out – is training to take place in the team’s city or at its facility in Arizona or Florida?

June 1 is a week from Monday. Sounds like the ideal deadline for a deal.

MLB and the union are already working out health/safety guidelines. There are differences of opinions, of course, but I don’t think the baseball season will be canceled because of a disagreement over showers.

Once a safe way to play is agreed upon, then comes the other obstacle: money. The initial talk of player compensation did not go well, with the owners offering revenue sharing, veering from the March conversation of prorated salaries. Reportedly, MLB will officially make its economic proposal Tuesday.

Will the billionaire owners and millionaire players work out a deal, so the rest of us can watch baseball? This owner-union relationship has been contentious in the past, but in the wake of a worldwide pandemic and suffering, they have to know – have to know – how it will look if they cannot agree to bring baseball back.

To that end, my dear owners and players, if all is agreed upon in the area of safety, here’s an attitudinal suggestion for your negotiations:

It’s not about you.

REMEMBER WHEN baseball returned a week after the 9/11 tragedy? One of the most inspiring visuals was the New York Mets wearing Fire Department of New York (FDNY) caps instead of their own. Baseball truly played a part in the recovery.

In 2020, baseball can do it again. Health care workers and other heroes can be honored – virtual first pitches? – and other symbolic actions incorporated.

Beyond symbols, the MLB and players union could offer real support. MLB already made a positive step 10 days ago when it announced its testing program. There have been complaints that a return of baseball will require needed and valuable COVID-19 testing equipment. MLB announced the laboratory that will provide testing of players and staff with provide thousands more tests to the .public.

Now, how can baseball’s principals come out of their economic quagmire looking good? First of all, compromise. Owners should not force-feed a deal-breaking, revenue-sharing plan, and the players have to see the reality of reduced income without fans in attendance.

Next, owners and players can both give a little – not to each other, but to the public most affected by this pandemic. Set up a joint fund that uses some of their revenue to help local communities – small business loans, health-care support, food pantries, etc.

Show that you care. Wouldn’t that be a great way to remember baseball’s return?


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