With every day that passes, the more this anticipation of Major League Baseball returning to the field grows to an all-time high. It seems like there are numerous hurdles for the NBA and NHL seasons to restart, but it does feel like MLB has some procedures that can work – in addition to playing outdoors, as opposed to playing indoors.
The talk on the street is that baseball could start in late June and no later than July 2. Playing 100 games, without fans in the stands, is now even on the table, according to three executives that have ties to those ongoing talks. All of those executives wished to remain anonymous since the plans have yet to be finalized.
MLB is now considering a three-division, 10-team plan where teams will only play others within their division; doing this would cut down on long-distance travel. In creating a three-division league, that would completely eliminate the American-National League format that we have all been accustomed to for the entirety of our lives.
The leagues would look like this:
Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals
Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals
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 plan, still awaiting approval of medical experts, still needs to see whether COVID-19 testing is available on a daily basis to the public. That would take away the need for players to be in isolation and still have them playing the team’s home ballparks.
Not to mention, the scope of travel gets drastically cut to keep these teams within their own regions of the country.
Another detail that still needs to be worked out is whether all teams will start the season in Arizona, Florida and Texas. Presumptively, each of these teams in the East, Central and West divisions could have their games pinned down to those locations.
In that situation, the idea of getting 100 to 110 games is way more likely. If all goes well, perhaps there could be fans in the stands before the end of the regular season, although the main focus is to have fans in attendance for the playoffs.
Keeping the players within tight corners of the United States increases the likelihood that players wouldn’t just have to travel from the hotel straight to the ballpark. Several marquee players like Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Wheeler have all raised concerns about spending that much time away from family.
“I obviously want to play as fast as we can. Get to a city, maybe Arizona, they’re throwing out Florida,” said Trout said a few weeks back. “Being quarantined in a city, if we play a couple of months, it would be difficult for some guys. What are you gonna do with family members? My wife is pregnant. What am I gonna do when she goes into labor? Am I going to have to quarantine for two weeks after I come back?”
If MLB comes through with some kind of a regular season, the fans will always be thankful for having some entertainment in these trying times. Not only that, but baseball could even pick up a lot more fans in the process. MLB is always looking for a way to bring more recognition to the sport, and now it is sitting right on the front doorstep.