There have been proposals made to play the entire 2020 MLB season in Arizona, using Chase Field, spring-training venues and college fields.
Another idea put forth is to have “Cactus” and “Grapefruit” leagues and split a 2020 season between Arizona and Florida.
This week, a third scheme was noted by R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports: A plan to possibly play this year’s games in three states, Arizona, Florida and Texas:
On Monday, multiple league sources informed CBS Sports about a different idea that has been discussed in recent days. In this arrangement, the league would have teams stationed in one of three hubs: Florida, Arizona or Texas. The clubs would then make use of the local major- and minor-league (or spring training) facilities.
One source even expressed guarded optimism about the idea’s chances of coming to fruition.
Ballparks in St. Petersburg (Florida), Phoenix (Arizona), and Arlington (Texas) each have roofs, retractable or otherwise, that would safeguard against rainouts and other extreme weather, allowing for multiple games to be hosted at those sites per day. Theoretically, MLB could also ask teams stationed in Florida and Texas to drive three-plus hours to other MLB parks (Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Miami’s Marlins Park).
The idea of driving three-plus hours in between venues in Florida and Texas is, in my view, the reason why the all-Arizona plan is probably a better one (but see this week’s SB Nation FanPulse survey results below!). The idea of those long bus rides in between cities might open up players and other needed personnel to the novel coronavirus, depending on how well certain areas have responded to it by the time baseball is played, presuming any sort of 2020 season can be scheduled and played at all.
Now, here are the results from last week’s SB Nation FanPulse survey. This is your reminder that each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Cubs fans as well as fans of other MLB teams. Sign up here to join FanPulse.
Fans are against a total overhaul of the 2020 season structure
Last week, fans surveyed through SB Nation FanPulse came out in favor of neutral site baseball games up to and including the postseason. They were also in favor of at least some regular-season games at neutral sites.
However, this week survey members made it abundantly clear that doesn’t mean they want that to be a season-long decision.
According to this week’s SB Nation FanPulse survey, 60 percent of fans are against playing an entire season in Arizona. That plan had been floated by baseball earlier in the month as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A similar plan was reported that would send every MLB team to their spring training facilities, in both Arizona and Florida, for the duration of the 2020 season. To do this, the leagues and divisions would need to be completely redrawn. National and American League teams would be mixed together based on the proximity of their spring training parks in “Cactus” or “Grapefruit” leagues:
While, technically, this would give each team their own “home field,” fans surveyed still don’t like the idea. Roughly 55 percent of fans nationally said they would be against this plan as well.
Cubs fans, specifically, have a slightly different opinion. The fanbase voted in favor of playing an entire season in Arizona with 53 percent of the vote, but they were against any realignment based on spring training location. For that question, Cubs fans voted 59 percent for spring training facilities, 23 percent regular season facilities, 18 percent just in Arizona. It would definitely feel odd to have a baseball season without a division race including the Cardinals and Brewers.
Contracts without baseball
Baseball has more to figure out than just what to do with the 2020 season. Last month the MLBPA and owners tentatively agreed that players active in 2019 will receive a year of service time no matter the length of the season.
However, the deal does not address what would happen if the entire season is cancelled. Many players argue that they should not be forced to remain under contract for an additional year even if games aren’t played. Owners will argue that the season should count more than the year.
Fans came down on the owners’ side in this particular question.
Some contracts are more directly affected by this decision than others, specifically, one-year deals. Theoretically, a team could miss out on seeing any actual in-game action from a player on a one-year deal. Or, in the case of the Dodgers and Mookie Betts, they could have made a trade for an expiring contract and not see that player in a single regular season game.
If that’s the case, fans are slightly in favor of teams getting some sort of compensation.
Cubs fans, however are against a team receiving compensation for one-year contracts.
How that compensation would work could get messy. It seems unrealistic to just “undo” a trade like the Betts deal. It seems more likely that teams like the Dodgers, who made these sorts of trades, could be given additional draft picks as compensation.
Speaking of draft picks, make sure you’re signed up to receive each week’s FanPulse survey. This week’s survey will directly address the oddities around this year’s draft.