Japanese baseball starting soon: could Atlanta Braves be close, too?
With multiple professional baseball leagues now underway or announced to start soon, pressure may build on MLB/MLBPA to get our Atlanta Braves back this Summer.
Half of an Atlanta Braves season is still better than none. It’s certainly not in the best interests of the sport to have an entire fanbase get used to the idea of being without the sport for 16 months.
That’s the message that Major League Baseball and its Players Association has to be wrestling with today as news of another professional league starting up has hit the news wires:
"The Nippon Professional Baseball season, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, will begin June 19, the league announced on Monday."
"While NPB teams normally play 143 games during the regular season, Saito said clubs would be aiming to complete 120 during the shortened 2020 campaign. The commissioner said his office was “not too far away” from revealing the revised 2020 schedule."
Already, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) is roughly 18 games into their season now with no obvious health issues in the news.
Now Japan is intending to launch their schedule – and play most of a regular season in the process.
In addition, multiple significant roadblocks to playing in the United States were recently removed:
- The states of New York and California are both open to baseball being played in their stadiums, despite on-going restrictions elsewhere.
- Over the weekend, it became known that the Federal Government would lift travel restrictions for foreign-born professional athletes for the purpose of helping get their sports back on the field.
So now, there are just a few remaining issues, two of them looming large:
- Canada – though the Toronto Blue Jays could play at their Dunedin, FL Spring Facility.
- Getting the players fully on board with the health and safety protocols.
- Money… the real issue. Forging an agreement between players and owners.
Frankly, one thing that could help the revenues question is to go ahead and play through October… adding another 25 games to the schedule. More baseball is better than less, right?
With the rest of these items fading to the background — and the notice that other leagues will be in progress before Summer begins — you’d have to think that both sides need to get together (and soon).
If a July 1st start date is truly going to happen, such an agreement needs to be forged within the next week to 10 days. Even if it’s only 80 games.
Only then can we start thinking about Atlanta Braves baseball again.