NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.
Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games vs. each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.
A team is scheduled to make only one trip to each city it visits in MLB’s shortest season since 1878.
In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games involving National League teams and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.
The number of playoff teams will remain at 10, though that still could change.
The trade deadline will be Aug. 31 and the deadline for postseason eligibility is Sept. 15.
Active rosters will be 30 during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after that. They will not expand to 28 on Sept. 1, as originally intended this year.
With no minor leagues, teams would be allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi squad. Up to three players from the taxi squad can travel with a team to a game, and one of the three must be a catcher.
MLB is keeping the innovation of the three-batter minimum for pitchers, but decided to keep the injured list minimum for pitchers at 10 days rather than revert to 15, as initially intended. But the new rule remains in place that a pitcher must face at least three batters or finish the half inning.
MiLB teams sue insurers
Fifteen minor league baseball teams, including the Fort Wayne TinCaps, have filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract by insurance providers after being denied claims for business-interruption insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Major League Baseball announced Monday that it will attempt to play a 60-game regular season, but its minor league clubs — many under threat of losing affiliations amid negotiations with MLB — are unlikely to play until at least 2021.
Minor league franchises said in the suit filed Tuesday that even though they continue to pay yearly premiums to insurance providers for business-interruption insurance, they have been denied coverage after Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred indefinitely suspended their seasons in March.
Minor league teams are mostly small, independently owned businesses, and their model depends on affiliates receiving players, coaches and other team personnel provided by major league clubs.
Government restrictions on mass gatherings are also precluding minor league teams from hosting fans at their ballparks, by far the greatest source of revenues for those franchises. Over 40 million fans attended minor league games involving 176 affiliates last season.
The suit claims teams are stuck with over $2 million in expenses on average, including as much as $1 million in ballpark lease payments, marketing costs, food and beverage supplies, and salaries and benefits for permanent employees.
Teams say providers are citing two reasons for denying claims — because losses are not resulting from direct physical loss or damage to property, or because policies include language excluding coverage for loss or damage caused by viruses.
Teams say the loss of use of their ballparks due to government restrictions on fan gatherings and their inability to obtain players qualifies as physical loss. They allege the latter clause is void because it’s unenforceable and inapplicable.