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Commissioner Nico Saves Baseball In 2020

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
“Don’t worry — stupid isn’t nearly as contagious as that other thing!”
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Dear MLB Players, Coaches, and Broadcasters,

Greetings to all. I have been granted Commissioner authority by Mr. Rob Manfred, upon his realization earlier today that he is “generally and specifically incompetent at anything and everything”. We thank Mr. Manfred for his self-insight into this matter, especially at a time when never before has there been a greater need for Major League Baseball to push forward — safely, of course.

You are receiving this memo because as a major league player, coach, or broadcaster, you qualify to participate in the 2020 season (or because you read Athletics Nation, where for some reason I am sharing this memo). Please note that every player has the right to “opt out” from the following game plan with no permanent consequence, i.e., players who choose to opt out will, upon the continuation of a regular baseball schedule in 2021, be placed back onto their appropriate roster without penalty or ostracization.

However, any player who chooses to opt out will accept two natural consequences in 2020:

1. He will not earn a salary for the 2020 season
2. He will not accumulate any service time for the 2020 season

For the players who opt in — and we hope this will be the vast majority, if not all, of eligible players — we will be proceeding as follows:

Eligible Rosters: 33 players, 26 active

Teams will construct rosters of 33 players, from their 40-man roster, that will travel with the team and participate fully in the plan outlined below. During the season, at any given time 26 players will be on the active roster while the other 7 players will not. This will allow for the normal series of roster moves (IL, optioning, etc.) to take place from amongst players cleared to travel and play.

Reporting Date: April 6th, 2020

The reporting date of April 6th has been chosen, in part, because it allows a 2-week period between receipt of this memo, and the reporting date. If you want to ensure that you will report free of the coronavirus we would invite you to elect to begin self-quarantining today to the fullest extent you are willing and able. We know many of you are already doing this, but want to offer a chance for all players to ensure their negative test by choosing to fully self-quarantine for the next 2 weeks.

April 6th-27th: Quarantine period

All players, coaches, and broadcasters will report on April 6th, 2020, to a “chartered hotel,” in Arizona or Florida, in which there are no other occupants. You will be quarantined, in isolation from one another, at the hotel from April 6th through April 27th, which we know will be challenging but which is also necessary in order to make an MLB season possible in 2020.

During this time we will do everything we can to make the time go faster and with a minimum of complete isolation. For example teams will set up, in the lobby, four corners of the lobby where four players at a time can convene to play video games together, watch movies and shows together, and so on (always wearing protective masks and following strict wipe down sanitization protocols before leaving the area).

Testing Dates: April 21st-23rd, 2020

On April 21st, 22nd, and 23rd we will conduct testing to confirm that each player is free of the COVID-19 virus. It is our hope that all test results will be in by April 26th, but the quarantine will remain in effect for each team until results are in for every member of the team. Anyone testing positive would, of course, be immediately sent home and barred from participating in MLB until further notice (and their “33-man roster spot” could not be replaced).

Extended Spring Training: Begins On Or About April 27th, 2020

Once a team is fully cleared, players will be allowed to begin working out together at their designated field, traveling only together, only by team bus, and only to and from the hotel.

Spring Training Games: Begin On Or About May 4th, 2020

One week after extended spring training begins, two weeks of games will be played as preparation for the season, absent fans but eligible to be broadcast by TV and/or radio. Schedules will be provided as soon as exact dates are known.

Opening Day: On Or About May 20th, 2020

The timelines above should allow for regular season games to commence around our target date of May 20th, 2020. The regular season schedule will be extended through all of October, allowing for a total of approximately 145 games.

So long as it is deemed unsafe for players to co-mingle with the general population, games will be played without fans but will be widely broadcast on TV and radio. Players will be granted service time as if they had played since March 26th, 2020, and will be paid their salaries as if they had been on the active roster since March 26th, 2020 — both in recognition of the significant sacrifice each player will have to make to live a largely sequestered lifestyle from April 6th through the end of the pandemic/season.

Post Season: November, 2020

The post-season games will be played in neutral parks that offer a guarantee, or extreme likelihood, of being able to host games in November. Strong consideration for the AL games are being given to Miami and San Diego, while strong consideration for the NL games are being given to Seattle and Los Angeles (Angels).

However, we will reserve the right to evaluate, and announce, post-season venues until after the All-Star break when more is known about the states of our national health situation and MLB’s post-season contenders.

Finally, note that we will not be bothering to test the Astros’ players since no one wants to get near them anyway. Just kidding, we will in fact test all the Astros as well (not kidding, though, about no one wanting to get near them).

Thank you for your attention to this memo, and PLAY BALL! Soon, anyway — thanks to Commissioner Nico and his wacky resolve that the show must go on somehow.


-The Commish

P.S. If you have a dry, hacking cough, please don’t apply for one of the housekeeping jobs at any of the charter hotels. Thanks.