We’re just about at the halfway point of the 2020 60-game MLB season (well, except for the Cardinals, who will be playing doubleheader after doubleheader in September).
Major League Baseball has been considering a postseason “bubble” for teams in October, and per Ken Rosenthal, we might be getting closer to that:
Three stadiums available in southern California, Arlington and Houston in Texas. Again: Nothing close to final. Other regions not out of question. But this is a plan being discussed. https://t.co/fp6S24S5Op— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 26, 2020
I like calling it a “bubble” rather than “controlled sites,” but this makes a great deal of sense once the first round is concluded. It would be very difficult to run eight series, which is what we’ll have in what’s being termed the “wild card” round, in two or three ballparks. But once you get to the division series round, with only four series running, that would make it a lot easier to do so. A midday game and a night game at a ballpark would give MLB time to clean and sanitize in between games.
One other thing I’d like to mention here, since the subject has come up: I do think it would be important for the Cubs to finish in the top four of the National League and host the wild-card round series, since all three games would be played at the higher seed’s ballpark.
This is not for any sort of advantage playing in your home park, because obviously without fans that advantage dissipates, although it can be argued that being in familiar surroundings with your own clubhouse would help. Home teams have a .523 winning percentage this year, which is a bit low compared to past seasons. In general, home teams have had a winning percentage of about .530 over the last seven and a half decades.
No, the advantage is not having to travel in a year when travel itself can be fraught with peril. Getting on a plane, flying to another city, staying in a hotel — all of those can be eliminated by any team that has home field during the “wild card” round.
If the Cubs had home field, they’d be able to be at home for a significant period of time. From September 4 through October 1 — four full weeks — they’d have only two trips outside Chicago, a bus ride to Milwaukee September 11-13 and one flight, to Pittsburgh for a four-game series September 21-24.
Playing at home might not matter — but being at home, in a pandemic year, almost certainly does.