With the spread of the novel coronavirus threatening Major League Baseball’s 2020 season, the league and the union continue to seek ways to salvage the year as best they can. Predictably, that has entailed any number of proposals and contingency plans, including those that would see teams either all isolated in Arizona, or split between Arizona and Florida.
On Monday, multiple league sources informed CBS Sports about a different idea that has been discussed in recent days. In this arrangement, the league would have teams stationed in one of three hubs: Florida, Arizona or Texas. The clubs would then make use of the local major- and minor-league (or spring training) facilities.
One source even expressed guarded optimism about the idea’s chances of coming to fruition.
Ballparks in St. Petersburg (Florida), Phoenix (Arizona), and Arlington (Texas) each have roofs, retractable or otherwise, that would safeguard against rainouts and other extreme weather, allowing for multiple games to be hosted at those sites per day. Theoretically, MLB could also ask teams stationed in Florida and Texas to drive three-plus hours to other MLB parks (Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Miami’s Marlins Park).
It’s unclear if MLB would assign 10 teams to each metropolitan area, or if it would opt for an unbalanced approach that would see 12 teams in one area and eight in another.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tweeted about his attempts to get professional sports back in the state amid the pandemic, including NASCAR.
Any leaked proposal, this one included, should be taken with a grain of salt. MLB would have to reach an agreement with the union on other logistical issues. For example, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw have each pushed back against the idea of spending months in isolation, away from their families.
Still, it’s safe to expect MLB to continue looking for ways to have some kind of 2020 season due to the substantial amounts of television revenue that could be lost with a wiped-out year.
Commissioner Rob Manfred hinted at as much last week.
“From our perspective, we don’t have a plan, we have lots of ideas,” he told Fox Business. “What ideas come to fruition depends on what the restrictions are, what the public health situation is, but we are intent on the idea of making baseball a part of the economic recovery and sort of a milestone on the return to normalcy.”