MLB Considering Radical Plan to Realign League, Play At Home Stadiums in 2020

Tim Kelly
April 28, 2020 - 4:36 pm
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With May looming, one would think that baseball has to be nearing decision day on what plan they want to proceed with in an attempt to have a 2020 season. Still, as another day passes, we get another seemingly radical proposal.

RADIO.COM MLB Insider Bob Nightengale, writing for USA Today, says that MLB is weighing a proposal that would involve teams playing at their typical home stadiums in realigned divisions.

While fans wouldn't be permitted to attend games in this scenario, this is the first proposal that would allow all teams to play at their home stadiums. Nightengale had previously reported on a proposal that involved teams playing in Florida or Arizona, while ESPN's Jeff Passan broke the Arizona proposal and R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports said that baseball even was considering a three-state solution that would involve Arizona, Florida and Texas.

This is also the first proposal that wouldn't involve players being quarantined, which was a sticking point for Los Angeles Angels' outfielder Mike Trout and Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher Zack Wheeler, among others. While players may be more open to this proposal because it wouldn't involve them leaving their families for an indefinite period of time, Nightengale acknowledges that it has yet to receive approval from key medical minds.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, previously outlined a scenario for there to be a 2020 season that involved players being quarantined and even surveilled. This proposal doesn't seem to meet those requirements. One would also think that the more states you involve - especially states that continue to see high rates of COVID-19, like New York - the more that could derail such a proposal from being successful.

Minute Maid Park
Could teams play in their home stadiums in 2020? Photo credit (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Under this plan, teams would be grouped into three divisions that would look as follows:

- West: Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros

- East: Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals

- Central: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves

This plan is thin on actual specifics as far as how many teams would make the playoffs and how it would be determined which teams face each other in the playoffs.

Additionally, the reason for grouping these teams in the same divisions is that teams would only play opponents in similar geographical areas in hopes of limiting the spread of Coronavirus. Nightengale says that MLB views late June or very early July as when the regular season would begin, which would put the World Series in October or November. If there's a second wave of COVID-19 at that time, as some medical experts fear, it's unknown how that could affect the ability of teams to travel to other regions of the country to play in the postseason.

Though baseball has yet to reach a consensus on how to proceed with the 2020 season, there does appear to be a belief that there will be a season. Nightengale, Passan and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal have all suggested as much in the last 48 hours.

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