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Rob Manfred admits the real reason MLB owners want the season over by November

As you might have guessed, it’s about money.

Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Remember Bud Selig and hotel rooms?

To refresh your memory, that’s the reason we had “This Time It Counts,” World Series home field decided by the result of the All-Star Gam from 2003-16. Bud was worried about hotel rooms. No, really:

We can’t wait until September 30th or October 1st to determine where the World Series is going to be played. You have thousands of hotel rooms to book and a lot of other things and right now we take a chance. But at least you know it’s going to be in a league and our people can work on that.

I mean, that’s one of the dumbest explanations ever. Even up to a few days before the World Series each year, the participants aren’t known. And the NBA and NHL have for years been able to conduct their final series without a fake home-court or home-ice advantage set out in advance.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred now has his “hotel rooms” moment. In an interview with Tom Verducci on MLB Network Wednesday, Manfred was asked why MLB owners are insisting on such a tight time frame for any 2020 season to be completed.

He first spoke of the novel coronavirus pandemic and a possible second wave of infections which could happen in November. So stipulated, this is a genuine fear and something that actually could occur and certainly all the parties involved should do everything they can to try to reduce or eliminate this risk.

But then Manfred said this [VIDEO].

Ah, ha.

Manfred said the quiet part out loud. While the pandemic is a concern, this is really all about TV money, and the “commitments to provide content at particular points in the calendar.”

Really? You mean that in a situation unprecedented in human history, MLB couldn’t have worked with Fox and ESPN and TBS to move some postseason games into November? If anything, viewership might be higher in November than October, because the weather isn’t as good in many parts of the country and more people are indoors.

Now, that brings up another legitimate issue, that playing postseason games in (say) Boston or Minneapolis or Chicago might wind up with games in terrible weather conditions. Any of you who have lived through the last two Novembers in Chicago can confirm that. But again, we’re talking about a unique situation. There aren’t likely going to be any fans at games this year. Why not move postseason games to neutral sites? MLB didn’t want the “Arizona Bubble League,” where players might have been sequestered from their families for three or four months. But certainly players could be put in one place for three or four weeks, say in Arizona or southern California, to play postseason games there. The NBA is doing this in Orlando. The NHL seems poised to choose some “hub” cities to play its postseason starting sometime in July.

I’ll repeat just so it’s clear — I understand the health reasons for wanting to have a 2020 MLB season earlier than later. But please don’t make this about TV money. Yes, I get it, that drives the engine and, in fact, postseason TV money is one of the things that would presumably pay players more in an abbreviated 2020 season.

I’d like to thing MLB’s TV partners could be flexible enough to work with them in this unprecedented situation and perhaps allow a 2020 postseason to go later into November in order to have as many games as possible played and give all of us some semblance of a normal season.

Play ball, guys. It’s way past time.