Major League Baseball announced plans for its 2020 postseason on Tuesday. After getting approval from the Players Association, the league announced it would hold the final three rounds of the playoffs — the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series — at neutral-site locations. Players will be housed nearby to set up one-location bubbles for each series.
The league will start the playoffs with the Wild Card Series on Sept. 29. The eight, best-of-three match-ups in that round will be played at the higher seed’s home ballpark.
National League Division Series: Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas and Minute Maid Park in Houston
American League Division Series: Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles
National League Championship Series: Globe Life Field
American League Championship Series: Petco Park
World Series: Globe Life Field
Since COVID-19 outbreak during the postseason would wreak havoc over the tournament’s schedule and competitive integrity, a bubble approach will help minimize the risk of a disruption.
Shortly after the 2020 season began, there were major outbreaks among the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. Both put the MLB season in jeopardy. All in all, the league has been forced to postpone 43 games due to positive COVID-19 cases. This bubble was put in place as a result of learning from the success of the NBA and NHL.
Competitive Edge Reaction
The first reaction of a fan to the bubble is, how will this affect my team’s natural home field advantage? The dimensions of a ballpark play into a team’s lineup and overall advantage. Look at the Yankees for example, they’re built for their stadium. They now lose the hitting edge they have when playing in the Bronx. But there is a flip side, they could gain a pitching edge by playing in bigger ballparks. The field is the same for everyone, but some parks could cater to teams lineups and pitching staff’s better than others.
Player’s Families Allowed
Player’s families will be permitted to enter the bubble. They will be allowed to quarantine with players on contending teams for seven days leading into the postseason. Then, they’ll be able to remain together for the entirety of their team’s playoff run. For the families that decide to go this route, they will be considered part of MLB’s bubble. And, reportedly, everyone inside the bubble will be tested daily.
Will There Be Fans?
Fans have not been able to attend MLB games this season, though the idea has not been ruled out for October. Speaking earlier this week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he hopes fans will be able to attend the League Championship and World Series games in some capacity. What that looks like is rather unclear since the games won’t be played in a home team market. And it might defeat the purpose of a bubble. More to come on this.
Tentative Playoff Schedule
Because there is no travel between ballparks during the Division and Championship Series, the schedule for both includes no days off. That’s rough news for pitching staffs.
Another notable change is the guaranteed eight-game playoff day on September 30, with all of the Wild Card Series taking place. Four of them will be elimination games. You won’t want to miss that slate of action.
Here are the key dates heading into the postseason with MLB looking to wrap things up on schedule by the end of October.
Sept. 29: Wild Card Series begins
Sept. 30: Eight-game day with every Wild Card Series in action
Oct. 5: ALDS begins
Oct. 6: ALCS begins
Oct. 11: ALCS begins
Oct. 12: NLCS begins
Oct. 17: ALCS Game 7 (if necessary)
Oct. 18: NLCS Game 7 (if necessary)
Oct. 20: World Series begins
Oct. 28: World Series Game 7 (if necessary)