In light of the recent wave of COVID outbreaks that have interrupted the season for various major league teams, Major league baseball is considering whether to move the postseason to natural sites according to reports by the Los Angeles Times and ESPN.
Two factors that could have an impact on the neutral sites’ location: one “safe zone” in September could turn into a hot spot a month later and the start of Flu Season. According to the
According to the LA Times report: “The [Major League Baseball] league had explored a bubble scenario for the entire season, with options to play only in Arizona; in Arizona and Texas; and in Arizona, Texas and Florida. Star players, including the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, opposed the concept of isolating apart from their families for four months. A postseason bubble would last for no more than one month, with players free to leave as soon as their teams were eliminated.”
In an interview with the LA Times Dr. Zach Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University, Dr. Binney said he would recommend that teams quarantine for three days before entering the bubble. At that point, players could enter the “bubble,” and the postseason could start but with no off-field contact with players on other teams for another four days. “If an outbreak happens, it stays restricted to that team,” Binney said. “If that team has to get knocked out of the playoffs, so be it. But at least that way you can say there’s probably very little risk of it transmitting to another team, because baseball is a socially distant sport.”
The main challenge at this point is ensuring that each team can play at least 60 games with both the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies sidelined for a week, and the St. Louis Cardinals most likely be sidelined for at least two weeks.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, August 10th, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “I think whether you get all the way to 60 or not, that’s difficult at this point… I think it’s possible for them to play enough games to be credible, to be a credible competitor in this season.”
Creating a bubble similar to what the NHL and NBA have created is a great idea and something that Major League Baseball should seriously move forward to making it happen.