- MLB reportedly considering returning to action with teams playing games from their spring training venues in Florida and Arizona
- Winner of Grapefruit League would play winner of Cactus League in Florida in November
- Universal DH would be installed for this season only
Major League Baseball was forced to postpone the beginning of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus outbreak that is still impacting the United States in a massive way. There is no firm timetable for the return of baseball or any other professional sport, but the league’s brass is attempting to come up with potential plans for when sports are given the green light to resume play.
Earlier this week, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that MLB is considering playing the regular season in a “bubble” of sorts, with all 30 teams playing games at the various ballparks located in the Phoenix area.
However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Friday that the league is considering dramatic temporary realignment that would eliminate the American and National Leagues for the 2020 campaign. All 6 divisions would also be realigned for what may be a truncated regular season.
MLB considering radical realignment as one of their options for 2020 season: Grapefruit and Cactus leagues https://t.co/vLQTG4ezgu
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 10, 2020
Under this plan, every team in the league would return to their spring training facilities in Florida or Arizona. Regular season games would be played in those two states without fans present in the stadiums in order to comply with pandemic protocol.
Instead of American and National Leagues, MLB would be divided into a full season of Grapefruit and Cactus League action.
Nightengale went on to unveil one potential realignment structure:
Northeast Division: Cubs, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Giants, Athletics
Northwest Division: Brewers, Mariners, Padres, Royals, Rangers
West Division: White Sox, Dodgers, Reds, Angels, Indians
North Division: Blue Jays, Phillies, Tigers, Pirates, Yankees
East Division: Marlins, Nationals, Mets, Astros, Cardinals
South Division: Red Sox, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Rays
Having games in Florida figures to be more challenging than doing so in Arizona. All spring training facilities in the greater Phoenix area are located within an hour’s drive of one another.
In Florida, the venues are scattered throughout the whole state. Keeping players, coaches and other essential staff quarantined across all of Florida presents a unique challenge.
Former Cardinals and A’s manager Tony La Russa, who is currently an advisor in the Angels organization, told USA Today, “When you’re trying to get really creative, why say no now? So you have a unique season. I’ve got no problem with that. I’m not sure we’ll be able to play in our own cities across the country, so if you split it up like that, it’s a possibility.”
Details of the Plan
One of the advantages of the Florida-Arizona plan would be that all 30 teams would be able to establish their own home venues with which they are already familiar. If all 30 teams were to play in the same state, teams would theoretically have to share stadiums and training facilities with one another.
The new plan would also give MLB access to 3 regular season stadiums in addition to the spring training facilities: Chase Field in Phoenix, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and Marlins Park in Miami.
With a condensed schedule, all teams could still play 12 games apiece against their new division rivals with another 6 games against every other team in the state. Nightengale adds that a universal designated hitter would be a part of the plan, as well.
The playoffs figure to include all division winners along with as many as 4 additional Wild Card teams from each league.
This plan calls for the Cactus League winner to square off against the Grapefruit League winner in a World Series that would shuffle between Tropicana Field and Marlins Park in November.
Of course, there is currently no timetable to begin play, and this is just one of many proposals that is reportedly being considered by Major League Baseball as a way of returning to action