Baseball is officially back and MLB has released the schedule to prove it.
The Major League Baseball Players Association had previously agreed to report to training camps on July 1 in preparation for a 60-game season, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
The union and MLB finished negotiations over health and safety protocols on June 23 with the schedule serving as the final unknown. That's now been cleared up.
The year will open July 23 with an ESPN doubleheader. The Washington Nationals will host the New York Yankees at 7:08 p.m. ET, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will welcome the San Francisco Giants at 10:08 p.m. ET.
MLB Network provided the remainder of the Opening Day slate on July 24:
The Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch reported the St. Louis Cardinals were replacing the New York Yankees for MLB's Field of Dreams game, which will take place at the site of the 1989 movie of the same name. MLB Network's reveal show confirmed the Cardinals will cross paths with the Chicago White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa, on Aug. 13.
MLB's hiatus began on March 12 in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time, Major League Baseball announced it was canceling the remainder of spring training games and pushing Opening Day back by two weeks to April 9. Those plans began to change drastically as the coronavirus continued to spread across the country, while the league and MLBPA worked on a deal to reopen the league.
The decision comes after the players rejected the league's latest 60-game proposal over the weekend, reportedly by a 33-5 vote. In response, the owners unanimously voted on Monday to proceed with the 2020 season under the March agreement.
That plan was contingent on the players agreeing to a July 1 report date as well as health and safety protocols. Training Camp 2.0 will last three weeks.
The shortened season follows intense negotiations between the players' union and MLB owners, who began pushing for a 50-50 revenue sharing split in mid-May as a way to deal with the economic impact on clubs during the spring and early summer months.
Players immediately pushed back, with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark calling the proposal a non-starter while speaking to Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Tensions on both sides continued to rise, with MLB insisting on players earning less, going so far as to propose a nearly 50-game season on June 1—less than half of what players were seeking at the time. Clark responded by calling the plan a "threat in response to an association proposal" with players again "resoundingly" rejecting the league's push for reduced salaries.
The union finally walked away from the bargaining table on June 13 after accusing the league of negotiating in bad faith. Clark and the players asked Rob Manfred to invoke his ability to construct a season at a length of his choosing, with full prorated salaries, demanding in dramatic fashion the owners "tell us when and where"—referring to a power bestowed on the MLB commissioner thanks to a deal originally reached on March 26.
That initially seemed like the end of baseball in 2020. Manfred, who only days earlier declared on ESPN he was "100 percent certain" there would be a season, told the network five days later—after the players walked away—he was "not confident" games would resume.
The ensuing panic quickly subsided as news that Manfred and Clark met face-to-face in Arizona became public, as did the notion that a deal appeared within reach.
A few more proposals and counter-proposals took place, but the two sides could not reach an agreement. However, baseball will be played after Manfred and MLB's owners decided to go forward with a season.
Major League Baseball will now permit teams to practice as clubs continue to ramp up in preparation for Opening Day 2.0. That will give another opportunity for some fringe players to prove they're capable of breaking camp on a big league roster.
While no MLB players had tested positive for COVID-19 before the league went on hiatus, a number of unnamed players were confirmed to have tested positive in the months following.
Shortly after the league paused all official activities, individual clubhouses began to vote on whether to leave spring training or remain at their preseason homes. The New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres mostly agreed to stay at team facilities through the scheduled end of spring training to continue with unorganized team activities.
Eventually, camps were cleared out as players were sent home.
Throughout the process, Major League Baseball, the players' union and the umpires' union struck a series of deals to help shoulder the financial burden of the delayed season, while individual clubs set up funds to help care for front-office and game-day employees during the stoppage.