Try this on for size – The Chicago Cubs and the Oakland A’s in the same division. Or Reel 360’s beloved Phillies having to battle it out with the New York Yankees for first place? The Dodgers and the Indians? Could be coming to a stadium near you. That is, if you live in either Arizona or Florida. Major League Baseball (MLB), like all of the other major sports, is trying to figure out how to squeeze a season out of this mess of year due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
According to USA TODAY Sports, an anonymous official said one of the plans MLB is considering would have all 30 teams returning to their spring training sites in Florida and Arizona and play all of their regular-season games only in those two states and without fans.
That means no Dodger dogs. No Philly Cheesesteaks. No rooftop viewing in Wrigleyville.
The divisions would be realigned based on the geography of their spring training homes. The plan, which would launch sometime in May, would see teams return to their spring training sites for three weeks. This also includes exhibition games, and then play ball.,
Here’s a look at one realignment structure:
- NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates.
- SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles.
- EAST: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins.
- NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics.
- WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels.
- NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.
With the proposed realignment, teams could still play 12 games apiece against their new divisional rivals and six games apiece against the other teams in the state. There would be at least one doubleheader a night when all teams are scheduled to play because of the odd number of teams in each state.
The good news is you would still get the Yankees playing the Red Sox and the Phillies playing the Pirates, who once shared the same division before realignment in 1994.
In the Cactus League, you could still see the Cubs take on crosstown rivals, The White Sox and the Dodgers play the Angels. Lost for the season would be the Cubbies playing the Cardinals which is always a big series in both Chicago and St. Louis.
There would still be division and wild-card winners, perhaps adding two more wild-card teams to each league, or a postseason tournament with all 30 teams.
The Cactus League winner in Arizona would play the Grapefruit League champion in Florida for the World Series championship, utilizing the domed stadiums in late November.
The DH would likely be universally implemented as well.
In this kind of weird, unexpected season you might actually see the lowly San Diego Padres make it to a World Series against the Miami Marlins.
“When you’re trying to get really creative, why say no now?’’ Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, the Angels’ senior adviser of baseball operations told USA TODAY. “So you have a unique season. I’ve got no problem with that.
Financially, it could be a huge boost for advertisers. You could have a captive TV audience the entire day if quarantine continues. California has extended its stay at home policy until May 15. Games in Florida could begin at 11 a.m. ET and still have games in prime-time for East Coast teams and their fans. The time slots still would permit West Coast teams to play prime-time games in Arizona.
We shall see as the Reel 360 team does love the sound of the crack of the bat and smell of hotdogs in the summer. Those senses will just be fulfilled from TV and our grill this year.
SOURCE: USA TODAY Sports