WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals have changed plans for their World Series ring ceremony again after players decided they would rather wait until they could reunite in person to receive their championship jewelry.
The Nationals had announced they were going to give out the rings during a celebration shown via television and the internet, an unprecedented approach brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. They still plan to unveil the design of the ring Sunday and go ahead with a fundraiser for two food banks and the showing of a documentary about Washington's 2019 season.
The Nationals consulted some team leaders before moving forward with the virtual ring ceremony.
"When team leaders discussed the plan this week with the players, the players collectively decided they would prefer to receive their rings when the team could be physically reunited. We support that decision," the team said in a released statement.
The show was planned for Sunday because of the date's significance in last year's title run. A year ago, Washington went into that day with a 19-31 record before starting a turnaround that led to the franchise's first World Series appearance and championship.
The Fall Classic went all seven games as the Nationals beat the Houston Astros in a unique series, with neither team winning at its home ballpark. This year's World Series, if it is played, will likely be remembered because of the surrounding circumstances if nothing else.
Major League Baseball shut down spring training in mid-March, roughly two weeks before the 2020 regular season would have started, due to the pandemic. That resulted in quiet stadiums on what would have been opening day, and restrictions on large gatherings made planning for a return difficult.
However, commissioner Rob Manfred has remained optimistic that the season will happen in some form, and this month team owners approved a proposed schedule that would start close to the Fourth of July.
And this week the MLB Players' Association gave management a wide-ranging response to a 67-page proposed set of health and safety protocols for a season to be played during the pandemic.
The union said it addressed: protections for high-risk players, access to pregame and postgame therapies, testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel and sanitizing procedures.
Players viewed many of the concepts in the original draft as over-the-top, such as arriving in uniform at the ballparks, a prohibition on them leaving hotels without team permission and a ban on guests other than immediate family members. Players also objected to a ban on the use of showers and hydrotherapy.
The union wants more frequent testing than management's proposed "multiple times per week."
MLB is expected to make an economic proposal to the union soon.