Major League Baseball Discussing Late June Start
While the NBA and NHL are hoping to resume their regular seasons at some point, Major League Baseball is hoping to begin theirs. Baseball was still a few weeks away from starting when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The 2020 Major League Baseball season was supposed to start near the end of March, but the league has already lost a full month of action. There have been several plans or ideas thrown around over the last few weeks, but it appears that the league is getting close to finding a solution.
According to league sources, Major League Baseball is eyeing a return at the end of June, with regular-season games beginning no later than July 2. Under this proposed plan, teams would be able to play close to 100 regular-season games. A normal baseball season is 162 games for each team in the Major Leagues.
It is extremely likely that all of the games will take place without fans, at least for the first few months of the regular season. At least three executives have spoken on a condition of anonymity, but it appears that this plan will be put in place.
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There has been plenty of talk about playing regular-season games in remote locations, such as Arizona or Florida. Many players initially voiced their displeasure with this plan, and the league now hopes to play all of the regular-season games in the normal host cities.
Major League Baseball is still gathering information and consulting with top medical experts before making any major announcement. One thing that the league is waiting on is the availability of widespread testing.
Playing games in home ballparks all across the country will eliminate the need for players to be kept in isolation, but players will have to be tested before they are allowed to step on the field. Gameday personnel and team executives will also need to be tested to ensure that everyone is safe before returning to action.
Another major part of this plan would allow the league to realign the divisions. With this new plan, there would be no American League or National League, and all of the teams would be blended together.
Each new division would be made up geographically, which would cut down on the travel that teams face during the regular season. According to sources, there would be three new divisions created, and all of the games would take place within the division.
The Eastern Division would feature these teams:
- Baltimore Orioles
- Boston Red Sox
- Miami Marlins
- New York Mets
- New York Yankees
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Washington Nationals
The Central Division would feature:
- Atlanta Braves
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Indians
- Detroit Tigers
- Kansas City Royals
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Minnesota Twins
- St. Louis Cardinals
Teams in the West Division include:
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Colorado Rockies
- Houston Astros
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Oakland Athletics
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers
The sources indicated that the league is also considering an expanded playoff format that could include up to 12 different teams. If this plan is put in place, it is unclear if the league would follow American League or National League rules.
This plan, like every other plan discussed by the league, is contingent on getting the go-ahead from medical professionals. Each state that hosts a Major League Baseball team would also have to allow the games to take place. Some states have loosened stay-at-home orders over the last few days, while others continue to be in place.