Report: MLB proposal for 2020 likely would place Dodgers and Angels in same division
Major League Baseball is exploring options that could allow the season to start if health conditions allow, including a plan in which the 30 teams could be split into three regional divisions. Teams would be restricted to playing within their region, two people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.
That plan, if used, would break up the traditional alignments of the American and National leagues, and likely would put the Dodgers and Angels in the same division. It also would cut travel during the coronavirus pandemic. MLB also has looked at configurations for all-Arizona, Arizona-and-Florida and Arizona-plus-Texas-plus Florida, the people said.
Another variation would have teams start in Arizona, Texas and Florida, playing in empty ballparks, and then if the situation allows, switch later to their regular-season sites. If conditions improve later in the year, they could start playing before fans with only a percentage of seats sold.
Opening day had been scheduled for March 26, but the new coronavirus caused MLB to delay the start to mid-May at the earliest.
Major League Baseball has informed teams they no longer need to advise fans to hold on to tickets for games affected by the coronavirus shutdown.
Any plan would be subject to medical approval plus consent of federal, state and local authorities. Any schedule with games at neutral sites or without fans would require an agreement between MLB and the players’ association. Baseball officials have told the union of their thinking but have not made any formal proposals.
Baseball also is considering expanding the playoffs beyond the current 10-team format. Officials have discussed extending the playoffs into November or possibly December, using domed ballparks and warm-weather cities.
Any plan would be contingent on baseball gaining access to test about 3,000 people on a regular basis: about 1,200 players plus staff and broadcast personnel. Players most likely would need three to four weeks of workouts before opening day.
Baseball officials have been encouraged by statements about the prospect of restarting the season from President Trump, Govs. Greg Abbott (Texas), Andrew Cuomo (New York) and Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania) and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, one of the people said.
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