Much like Ben Brainard keeps adding states to the roundtable, so too does MLB keep adding states to their return plan.
Monday, CBS writer R.J. Anderson reported that, along with Arizona and Florida, baseball might be played in Texas as well. There were no details about how it might work, but the teams would use “local major and minor league facilities” in the Phoenix, Tampa, and Arlington areas.
We’ve talked about the problems with opening up baseball in any form before, but as I continue to think about a plan like this, I can see some merit to it. One of the issues I had with the Florida/Arizona plan is that it required you to basically keep two quarantine bubbles instead of one. This new plan would require three, but there is value in having those bubbles smaller. You are looking at 10-12 teams max, which is still a lot of people, but it might be more manageable than 30 would be.
With states like Texas and Florida opening up more–and you can argue whether that’s right, necessary, or neither–it would be interesting to see just how strict these quarantines would have to be. If teams aren’t flying from Texas to Florida to Arizona, could you have a more open approach, with precautions of course, but allowing families to be around? It still doesn’t solve situations like Mike Trout‘s, who will want to go home to be with his wife when she gives birth, but if you can limit the need for players to leave (and quarantine them for a while when they return), maybe it would work.
It’d be very interesting to see both West divisions out in Phoenix, both Centrals in the new park in Arlington, and both Easts in Tampa. Could you play five games a day, four intradivisional and one interleague? Would seem hard to fit it in if you just used those stadiums, but if you could use some of the minor league parks around, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. Best case would be that you could play (as J.J. Bailey said on a Chirps episode a few weeks back) all the division games at one time and then maybe things are relaxed enough that teams could switch locales easier, either returning home or (I think more likely) rotating the AL or NL teams around so a new batch of games could be played.
I’m guessing that we wouldn’t see 18 games inside the division if they were going to do some sort of rotation, though if they can start by June 1 and throw in double headers, maybe they would really push for 140 games or so. I still can’t see more than an average of eight games a week, because there are going to have to be off days, so it would take basically through July to get that many games in. Of course, not every team can play divisionally every day, so if you toss in that fact, it’d probably mean that it’s mid-August before you could rotate. Given the setup, let’s say the division plays 15 times against each other and one series against every team from the other league. That should be 75 games, right? Then, rotate in a new division–or, maybe to make sure there’s not an abundance of interleague play, maybe 3 of one division and 2 of another rotate in/out–and play two series against everyone that comes in, that’s another 60 games but it’d take through the beginning of October. That’s 135 games, which might be enough to consider things salvageable. So to work this out a little more, you’d see the Cards play, for instance:
Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Pirates: 15 each
White Sox, Royals, Twins, Indians, Tigers: 3 each
Mets, Phillies, Nationals, Yankees, Red Sox: 6 each
The overall logistics in making out a schedule would be a mess–I started tinkering with it and realized how many problems you could have–but it would be doable.
The commissioner has said he expects to play baseball this summer. There’s still a long way to go but seeing how things are falling off, testing is improving, and there’s at least an argument that there may have been many folks that were asymptomatic (and as such may have antibodies), we might be seeing just a little bit of hope about games on the field, even if there won’t be anyone there to witness them in person.