Mark your calendars for June 10th because it looks like Major League Baseball may be back!
After numerous reports, with the first coming from former Twin Trevor Plouffe, May 4th, there is confidence that the league will start up Spring Training 2.0 on June 10th with Opening Day being July 1st.
If that doesn’t get you giddy, the fact that home ballparks will be used will. While there likely be minimal or no fans in the stands, it still is better than staying up until midnight or 4AM to watch Korean baseball on ESPN.
Along with baseball being back just in time for your Independence Day celebrations comes some new rules to ease the burdens of a season getting shortened due to COVID-19.
I must note, that although this is the current rumor, it is still completely up in the air and has major hurdles such as state governors and legislatures to overcome. These ideas are also only potential options the league may enact if we do see baseball in 2020. Especially since the Plouffe rumors have bee counteracted by those in the media.
Having been rumored since the start of discussions on how to get the league up and running, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is the likely route MLB will take.
The divisions get rid of the classic American and National Leagues in favor of a combined league-wide league with only three divisions. East, West, and Central.
|Baltimore Orioles||Oakland Athletics||Atlanta Braves|
|Boston Red Sox||San Francisco Giants||Milwaukee Brewers|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Los Angeles Angels||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Miami Marlins||Los Angeles Dodgers||Chicago Cubs|
|New York Mets||San Diego Padres||Cleveland Indians|
|New York Yankees||Arizona Diamondbacks||Cincinnati Reds|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Colorado Rockies||Kansas City Royals|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Texas Rangers||Detroit Tigers|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Houston Astros*||Minnesota Twins|
|Washington Nationals||Seattle Mariners||Chicago White Sox|
While it appears most of the original divisions remain intact, the likes of the Pirates and Braves will be separated.
It also gives teams and fans a unique opportunity to look at teams rarely seen from opposing leagues for what is likely a once-in-a-lifetime experiment. This also leads to some additional rule implementations that the league is likely to announce:
Universal Designated Hitter:
National League purists will despise this, as will some front offices who will not have ample time to find adequate bats in the free agent pool. But sometimes life isn’t fair.
This has been an idea that has floated around the league for what feels like a lifetime, but the rationale behind it is to eliminate any additional injuries that may occur to pitchers when batting or on the base paths.
Another idea that will give purists an ulcer is increasing the bids for the postseason.
The last expansion was in 2012 when the league added an additional Wild Card team to each league, but with a shortened season which means less of an emphasis on those games and less time to compete for a spot, this idea makes sense for 2020.
It is unlikely that we see the model the NBA and NHL use with 16 team tournaments, but an NFL model could be followed. This places the top four teams with a first-round bye and increasing the motivation to win the division.
Neutral Site World Series:
This is the most unlikely of the bunch as the seven-game home and away format is what makes playoffs in MLB, NHL, and the NBA special.
While this works in the NFL as it is a one-game extravaganza, baseball is a different beast. It could spark some economic growth if it were to be implemented long-term as cities have seen in the past, but it is unlikely.
But it isn’t out of the question. With coronavirus hotspots popping up around the country, this is an idea that stems off MLB’s previous Arizona and Florida spring training facility plans. It could happen, but there would likely be a revolt from everyone from purists to your average viewer and listener.
What do you think will happen? Do you like some of the rumored proposals? Let me know in the comments and let’s get Major League Baseball back in our lives!