Baseball
Baseball

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.

A dramatically altered season with games full of new rules was the final result of failed financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see any baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day. The announcement by MLB came while more players continue to test positive for the virus — at least seven on the Philadelphia Phillies alone. And a stark realization remained, that if health situations deteriorate, all games could still be wiped out.

One day after the players' association rejected an economic agreement and left open the possibility of a grievance seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the bickering sides agreed on an operations manual. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.

In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games between National League teams for the first time and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base. This will be MLB's shortest season since 1878, a schedule of such brevity that some fans may question the legitimacy of stats and records.