by Mike Axisa – CBS Sports
In mid-March, MLB and the MLBPA had to hit pause on the 2020 season because of the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. Opening Day has been pushed back indefinitely. In the meantime MLB and the union are exploring various plans to hold as long a season as possible.
Among them is a plan that would drop each team into one of three hubs (Arizona, Florida, Texas), as reported by our R.J. Anderson last week. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports such a plan would involve league-wide realignment, splitting teams into three 10-team divisions.
Here are the details:
MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.
The divisions would keep many of the natural rivals together, while playing one another before an expanded playoff format.
Nightengale suggests the three divisions could be based on geography and result in an East Coast division (presumably in Florida), a West Coast division (Arizona), and a Central division (Texas). Obviously this plan would also require a revised postseason format.
Beyond keeping division and geographical rivalries intact, such a plan would also be beneficial for broadcasting. It’s unlikely fans will be allowed into the ballpark, so MLB and the MLBPA will have to make sure everyone can easily watch games on television or online. Keeping every team in its natural time zone only makes sense.
Earlier this month it was reported MLB and the MLBPA are discussing a plan that would split the league into the Cactus League and Grapefruit League, and host games at spring training sites. MLB would remain six five-team divisions under that plan, however, with the divisions based on geography in Arizona and Florida.
It’s important to note MLB is kicking around many ideas at the moment and they are not close to finalizing any plans to begin the 2020 season. These are all concepts and nothing more right now. Any plan will prioritize safety. Not only for the players, but their families as well as anyone else in the baseball world (grounds keepers, umpires, TV crews, etc.).