The outbreak of novel coronavirus has thrown a serious wrench into the plans for the 2020 MLB season. A new USA Today report today sheds light on another possible solution to start the season, but what are the positives and negatives? Let’s take a look.
MLB Grapefruit and Cactus League Solution
MLB considering radical realignment as one of their options for 2020 season: Grapefruit and Cactus leagues https://t.co/vLQTG4ezgu
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 10, 2020
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Major League Baseball is reportedly considering a radical realignment of the leagues and divisions. Under this proposal, the 30 teams would be split into two leagues, the Grapefruit and Cactus League. The teams would be split based upon their Spring Training location, with half the teams heading to Florida and the other half will go to Arizona.
Here is how the teams would reportedly be split up:
NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates.
SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles.
NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics.
WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels.
NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.
The regular season would be staged in front of empty seats, and it would reportedly start after a three week Spring Training. The hope with this idea is that all teams would essentially be put in quarantine from the outside world. In addition, having teams play all their games in Florida and Arizona should add some flexibility to the end date of the 2020 season.
Under this proposal, many of the rivalries we’ve come to know and love as baseball fans would be temporarily shelved for one season as the league wraps its head around the coronavirus. The Red Sox and Yankees would not be in the same division, nor would the Dodgers and Giants. However, those two teams would still go head to head at some point, or at least we think they will, this year. This is reportedly how the schedule may shake out:
- 12 games against each divisional opponent, six games against all other teams in the league
- DH would become universal in 2020
- “Could still be” division and wild-card winners for both leagues, but additional proposals include adding two more playoff teams, as well as a 30 team tournament to decide 2020 champion
- World Series would be staged at a domed stadium in November
What are the positives of this proposal?
There are some positives, as this would allow the league to have the regular season go deep into October. Arizona and Florida, for those not familiar with the climate there, are both warm-weather states, so staging a regular season that goes into the fall becomes more feasible. In addition, teams can mitigate travel and interaction with others, thus protecting their players from contracting the coronavirus.
Another positive here is that some rivalries will remain intact. Even though some of the battles that we are accustomed to seeing won’t happen in 2020 (Astros/Rangers, Reds/Pirates), it would be fun to see Mike Trout and Mookie Betts face each other 12 times. I also don’t think baseball fans would mind seeing Gerrit Cole and the Yankees would go up against Jacob deGrom and the Mets six times this season. In addition, other teams, such as the Red Sox, Orioles and Rays would also stay division rivals this season. This alignment may not make some hardcore fans happy, but it does keep some existing rivalries while building new ones.
But are there any negatives with this proposal? Absolutely.
What are the negatives of this proposal?
For one, we don’t know what state these two areas will be in come May and June. Many are hopeful that the number of coronavirus cases will go down as we move closer to summer in North America, but nothing is assured at this moment. If Florida and Arizona see a spike in cases over the next couple of weeks, would this really be a feasible option?
Second, fans probably won’t be happy about the alignment of some of these divisions. Consider the Grapefruit North Division, as only one team (Yankees) in that proposed division made the MLB Postseason in 2019. Three of the teams in that division (Toronto, Detroit and Pittsburgh) all finished below .500, and the Phillies finished 2019 at the .500 mark. And how about the Cactus Northwest Division, where the Brewers and Padres, both of whom have high expectations for 2020, will be in a division filled with rebuilding teams. That alignment won’t make Mets fans happy, who would have to deal with a division that includes the Nationals. Astros and Cardinals. Three of the final four teams in 2019 would be in the Grapefruit East Division, making it a ‘Group of Death’-sort of division.
What to Make of the Proposal
As of right now, baseball fans shouldn’t think much of it. MLB’s job is to kick around many proposals and come up with as many ideas as possible in order to stage the 2020 season. While this is just one idea, the league won’t really be able to settle on one until at least later this month, as hopefully by then we will get some clarity on the current situation. Until then, we can only wait and hope that some normalcy will return in the near future.
What do you think about this proposal? Let us know in our comments section, or on our social media channels.
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