He’s apparently not the only one in MLB’s power structure thinking that way. Per Jeff Passan at ESPN.com, the league has had “preliminary discussions” about a bubble-type setup for this year’s postseason:
Because of MLB’s expansion to 16 playoff teams, the league would need at least three hubs to complete its wild-card round before shrinking to a two-hub format for the division series. The league championship series and World Series could be held at one or two stadiums. Remaining in one metropolitan area would allow teams to avoid air travel and perhaps remain at a single hotel for the entire postseason, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 27.
It might even be possible to hold the first-round series — the one involving 16 teams in eight series — in home ballparks, since there won’t be any travel involved during those series. The teams with the higher seed are slated to host all the games in those quick, three-game series, which could be over in two games if one team takes Games 1 and 2.
Passan says that such hubs could be located in Southern California, the greater Chicago area and the New York metropolitan area,” but due to weather concerns in the latter two, the Los Angeles area might be the better choice. If they did attempt to hold the entire postseason — including the first round — in one “bubble,” here’s how it might work, according to Passan:
The three-game National League wild-card round, played in three days, would stage the No. 1 seed vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7 and No. 3 vs. No. 6 at Dodger Stadium. The same American League seeds would play at Angel Stadium, about 30 miles southeast in Anaheim. The Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in both leagues would face off at Petco Park in San Diego.
The NL Division Series would hold two games per day at Dodger Stadium and the ALDS two games per day at Angel Stadium.
The NLCS would be held at Dodger Stadium and the ALCS at Angel Stadium, or both would be played at a single site.
The World Series would be held at a single site or perhaps both.
This would make a great deal of sense, although, as Passan points out, logistics including early game times and disinfecting of clubhouses make this potentially problematic and:
The league could expand the bubble to the Bay Area to satisfy that.
Of course, that would involve air travel (since the Bay Area is an eight-hour bus ride from the Los Angeles area), and the whole point of doing it in one metro area is to avoid that sort of travel. Or, they could do it this way:
New York, with Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, could pair with Philadelphia or Baltimore and Washington for an East Coast hub setup. Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, along with Milwaukee, could constitute a Midwest hub. Perhaps half the teams could play in New York and the other half in Southern California, with the East Coast winners flying to California at the beginning of October and spending the remainder of the month in the Los Angeles area.
It’s clear that a lot of different scenarios are being considered. The league does have some flexibility because at this point it seems clear that no fans are going to be at any of the games this year. We’ve already seen some of that flexibility, in fact. When the Cubs/Cardinals series was postponed this past weekend, ESPN needed a replacement for Sunday Night Baseball and they quickly shifted the White Sox/Indians game from an afternoon time to evening. As long as players are willing to be adaptable to a bubble for October playoffs, this could work. Players didn’t want a bubble for the entire season, as they didn’t want to be separated from their families for three to four months. A postseason bubble would ask them to do that for only three to four weeks, a much more manageable length of time.
MLB, so far in 2020, has had to postpone quite a few games because of COVID-19 outbreaks among the Marlins and Cardinals. As Sara Sanchez pointed out earlier today, there could be one coming for the Indians after two of their players went out without permission over the weekend in Chicago. A bubble situation for this year’s postseason might allow the league to finish the season and have a champion by the end of October.