This entire baseball season was always going to be a struggle, and it seems like every other day we get another reminder that MLB had not considered everything. Rules have been changed on the fly, as have schedules, as they just try to get through this year. It has certainly been frustrating as roster size limits have changed and extra inning rules have been altered and teams simply haven’t played for two weeks, and there is a valid complaint to be made that MLB and the Players Association was not well enough prepared for what they were attempting to do. No arguments there! That said, as these challenges are presented it is certainly better that they are willing to adapt rather than sticking to their guns and trying to plow through with their original plan.
It looks like there is another change in direction being considered by the league right now with respect to the postseason. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, MLB is considering playing their playoffs in a bubble system. It is worth noting that these preliminary discussions reflect a multi-city bubble system like the NHL rather than the NBA’s. (The NBA has all teams in Orlando while the NHL has one conference in Toronto and the other in Edmonton.)
So, yes, these are preliminary talks and it doesn’t seem like it is particularly close to being set in stone, though there are reasons to believe that momentum is pointing towards this getting done. The cities that have been thrown out in the report are Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Passan also mentions that things wouldn’t necessarily be limited to those cities but rather make it a regional bubble. For example, San Diego could be paired with L.A., Philadelphia with New York and Milwaukee with Chicago. Remember, playoffs were also expanded to 16 teams this year, so the plan could be to have three bubbles for the first round, two for the divisional round and then one for the LCS’s.
Clearly there is still a lot to be worked out so I wouldn’t really get too hung up on the specifics of the plan right now. The general idea of a bubble system is sound, though. I am among those who did not believe a bubble was really feasible for a regular season atmosphere, but for a month-long postseason it can certainly work. MLB certainly hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt with any of this, but given that many experts have warned that the COVID situation could become worse in the fall as flu season hits, now is the time to get ready for getting through March.
Of course, with all of that being said, the first 16 games have indicated this is not much of a concern for the Red Sox either way.