A multitude of scenarios have been discussed since Major League Baseball was required to cancel remaining Spring Training games and delay the start of the regular season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The first to become public was an Arizona plan, in which all 30 teams would descend upon The Grand Canyon State and be quarantined while playing at select Spring Training facilities and Chase Field.
More recently, MLB was said to be considering doing away with American and National Leagues, and using Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues for division realignment. That was followed by a reported plan in which teams would be based in three hubs — Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Although a quarantine-style arrangement may have been viewed as a likely scenario, the preference is for teams playing at their home stadiums, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
The preferred plan would be to start play in late June or early July with as many teams as possible playing in home parks, such as the Rays at Tropicana Field, while competing in their regular divisions with an abbreviated schedule of at least 80 games.
The Arizona scenario, in which all players and staff would essentially live and play in a colonized bubble, is much less likely. So, too, is having all teams play at spring sites and compete in Cactus and Grapefruit leagues. Other reports about having teams assigned to “hub” sites in Arizona, Texas and Florida, or realigned into three geographical divisions, are being downplayed or dismissed.
While having players quarantine in a centralized location(s) in order to begin the regular season may have addressed some concerns, there were logistical hurdles and opposition from Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and L.A. Angels All-Star Mike Trout, among others.
In addition to MLB reportedly exploring a set up that would keep teams in their stadiums for the regular season, that may also be the arrangement for a second Spring Training. Of course, how viable this ultimately becomes largely hinges on each state’s handling of the pandemic.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently outlined a phased plan that did not have sports returning until Stage 3, with fans not in attendance for live events until Stage 4. Newsom did not provide a timeline for each stage.
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