On Wednesday, Major League Baseball through The Athletic revealed that its players will not receive the coronavirus vaccine without waiting their turn.
“Like the NBA, Major League Baseball and its clubs will work with public health authorities on issues related to the availability and timing of vaccinations for players and other employees,” MLB said in a statement to The Athletic. “Vaccinations will only be made available to players when public health officials deem it appropriate.”
Here is where things get sticky for MLB and the MLBPA. The two sides engaged in an ugly, very public battle last summer over what the 2020 season will look like as it set up to restart following a spring training shutdown. Now, weeks away from the scheduled spring training report dates, rumors say that the two sides are continuing that battle.
Related: MLB Owners Want to Delay 2021 Season, Are We in for an All-Out Feud Between Owners and Players?
Essentially, players want to play on time and for the full, normal 162 game season. However, MLB team owners, after losing billions in revenue in 2020, are looking to stall long enough to allow
paying customers fans time to potentially receive the vaccination and for things to return closer to normal in 2021.
To do this, owners are demanding that the season not start in earnest until players receive the vaccine as well.
The union is arguing that players proved last season that they can adhere to strict protocols and open the season on schedule, playing to empty stadiums until it’s safe enough for fans to return to the ballpark. Of course, logistical nightmares lie ahead in any scenario involving fans in the seats as the league will have to adhere to state and county restrictions.
An easy but unethical solution would have been for the league to cut in line, as it were, and get that vaccine in time for a full season (thankfully they won’t be doing that). But, that remains not in the best interest of club owners who will stand to lose even more money in 2021 if no fans are in the stands.
In short, things aren’t looking great for baseball to start on time, if at all, next year.