Optimism on the rise for a 2020 season (plus notes)

This is going to happen.

There’s going to be a baseball season. At least until I refresh Twitter.

Truth be told, I’m so certain of it that I’m already deciding whether to eat dinner at home before heading to the ballpark or packing a sandwich.

We’ll always wonder why commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, didn’t meet face-to-face a long time ago and hammer out an agreement.

A couple of weeks ago would have sufficed.

We were instead subjected to rejected proposals and public bickering and leaked information that didn’t aid the process.

Thumbnail image for Camden-Yards-Before-Opener-Roch.jpgManfred issued a statement yesterday that read:

“At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix. We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”

Nowhere in this paragraph does it state that an agreement has been reached, but it screams of progress made.

The union tweeted out a statement earlier in the day that read: “Reports of an agreement are false.” Just in case anyone was ready to celebrate.

Don’t heat up the charcoal because someone will urinate on it.

(Meanwhile, I never saw a single report stating that the sides actually reached an agreement.)

There’s still a lot of work to be done. Owners and players will have to give their approval. And reports of a 60-game season with full prorated pay make it clear that there’s going to be some tweaking.

The players want more games. Perhaps 65 will be deemed as sufficient. MLB will need to move off 60. And yes, there were reports last night of players “pushing back” on the proposal - if it was, indeed, only a proposal.

The sides can’t even agree on the terminology.

The playoff field would expand from 10 to 16 teams. The Orioles just became contenders in the second year of their rebuild.

(In case you’re wondering, they were 19-41 after 60 games last year and 20-45 after 65.)

The union would have to pinky swear that it won’t file a grievance. Is it willing to do so? The owners are pressing for a promise.

Travel will remain regional - the Orioles playing teams in the American League East and National League East divisions.

The season could run from July 19-Sept. 27, with heath officials still concerned about a second wave of the pandemic striking later in the summer or in the fall.

Which leads me to an important point that has nothing to do with money and games.

The first wave isn’t over. COVID-19 didn’t disappear. Don’t make bold assumptions based on outdoor seating at restaurants and gyms reopening at reduced capacity.

If there’s no longer a health risk, why have more cases been reported all over the country? The state of Florida, for example, broke a record number of new cases for a third day in a row over the weekend and now is the U.S. leader.

Just how badly do we want baseball?

I probably got my answer yesterday.

MLB could just impose the 50-game season that it believes was agreed upon in March. Players just want to know where and when. It’s become a hashtag. So yes, I think there’s going to be baseball in some form. And ownership and the union, like divorced parents, will have to be seated at separate tables because they just can’t get along.

* The number of undrafted free agents signed by the Orioles has grown to six players.

The latest is Central Connecticut State University first baseman/left fielder Terry “TT” Bowens, 22, who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds.

Bowens slashed .306/.384/.517 in four seasons at Central Connecticut State covering 96 games. He had 21 doubles, seven triples, 13 home runs and 72 RBIs in 398 plate appearances.

In 38 games last year in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, Bowens hit .331/.420/.694 with nine doubles, 16 home runs and 53 RBIs in 181 plate appearances.

The Central Connecticut State website posted news of the signing - schools, parents and trackers keep breaking news - and included the following quote from Bowens:

“This is a great opportunity and obviously I’m really excited. It’s unfortunate that this season got cut short, but I had great memories at CCSU. I look forward to this opportunity and what the future holds.”

“This is well-deserved accomplishment for TT and a testament to his hard work,” said head coach Charlie Hickey. “TT never lost sight of his goals and worked to get this chance. He set an example for everyone in our program with his work ethic and we will look forward to following his career and what he achieves. It also shows that if you put in the time and effort to take advantage of the opportunities you receive, people will notice.”

Other undrafted free agents to sign with the Orioles include Auburn pitcher Ryan Watson, Radford first baseman J.D. Mundy, Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher Brandon Young, Duke pitcher Thomas Girard and Pittsburgh-Johnston pitcher/designated hitter Isaiah Kearns.

* The Orioles are paying their full-time and year-round part-time employees full salaries through June 30.

The most recent update had payments through Friday.

Minor league players are receiving their $400 weekly stipends through the final game on the schedule.

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