Major League Baseball has submitted a proposal to the MLB Players Association about potentially holding at least part of the 2020 playoffs inside a multi-city “bubble” environment, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link). It isn’t yet known if the entire postseason would be played at neutral sites, or if the best-of-three first round series would remain in the home ballparks of the higher-seeded teams.
As initially reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter), the league has been in talks with the union about how to manage and conduct games at these “controlled sites” in order to limit city-to-city travel and thus limit the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak in October that would delay the entire postseason. While details are “nothing close” to being finalized, as Rosenthal notes, MLB began preparing an operations manual regarding such a postseason scenario earlier this month. As outlined by ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan and Jeff Passan, the baseball’s plan would bear a strong resemblances to the NHL’s staging of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton.
While the NHL is holding all games at two arenas, however, baseball’s plan may seem to involve five different stadiums and civic areas. Southern California (San Diego and the two L.A. ballparks) and Texas (Arlington, Houston) still seem to be the favored candidates for these sites, as noted in the Kaplan/Passan piece, with Rosenthal adding that National League’s postseason teams would play in Texas while the American League teams went to California. The World Series would be held in Arlington at the Rangers’ new ballpark.
It is quite possible that the framework of this plan would be changed over the coming weeks, and as talks develop with input from the MLBPA. As of today, however, we are exactly one month away from the last day of the regular season. One would think negotiations would need to progress pretty quickly to get a bubble environment launched by the start of the playoffs on September 29, though the possibility of the first round being played at home ballparks does allow some extra flexibility.