A return to normalcy is all anybody wants amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and Major League Baseball is no different. As MLB considers several possible ideas for the 2020 season with the goal to play as many games as possible, they are still holding out hope of teams playing games in their home ballparks.
For the last month, starting the season in hubs, specifically Arizona, Florida, and Texas, has seemed like the most realistic possibility. However, MLB hasn’t given up on teams being able to stay home and replicating a normal season as much as possible.
According to reports, MLB’s preferred plan is to get regular-season games started in late June or early July. The schedule would include at least 80 games, possibly 100 or more, with the regular season extending deep into October, leaving the postseason to be played in November.
It would also include teams playing in their home ballparks and staying in their normal divisions, two things that are far from a guarantee if MLB has to send teams to various hubs.
Plans to send all 30 clubs to Arizona to be sequestered in between games or to use Arizona, Florida, and Texas as hubs have been met with some backlash. Those plans include taking players away from their families for months at a time and keeping their activity limited when they’re not playing.
More To Work Out
If players aren’t on board with that type of set up, MLB’s only choice might be to figure out a way for all 30 teams to play games in their home stadiums and travel for road games like they normally would. Of course, there’s still a lot to figure out to make that scenario work.
For starters, teams would still have to do a fair amount of travel for away games. MLB would likely make an effort to limit travel as much as possible by only scheduling teams to face opponents in their own division.
However, visiting teams would still have to abide by local social distancing restrictions whenever they travel to a new city. At the moment, those restrictions vary widely from one place to another.
Testing would also be a big obstacle, no matter how MLB tries to resume play. Players, coaches, umpires, and any team personnel working at stadiums would need to be tested regularly and monitored closely for symptoms.
Baseball leagues in Korea and Taiwan have provided a blueprint that MLB could follow with regard to testing. However, testing has to become more widely available to the general public because MLB isn’t going to accept preferential treatment for players and staff so that games can resume.
Finally, the owners and the players still need to hammer out a financial agreement. Even if games are played in home ballparks, it’s highly unlikely that fans will be in attendance, at least at first.
The players agreed in March to play for a pro-rated salary based on how many games are played. But the owners made that deal believing that fans would be allowed in attendance when games resumed.
If that’s not the case, the finances change drastically and could force the players to take an additional pay cut, something the Players Association has said it opposes.
At the moment, we’re still weeks away from MLB making any formal announcement about the 2020 season. However, if games are played this season, it looks increasingly likely that they’ll take place in major league stadiums. Right now, that’s MLB’s preferred option, giving fans a chance to see a return to normalcy sometime this summer.
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