There is still hope for Major League Baseball amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the league reportedly considering a radical proposal to squeeze in a very different-looking kind of season.
As USA Today reported, the league is looking into the possibility of having all 30 teams playing in their normal spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, which would mean something of a radical realignment of the regular-season leagues and divisions.
“The plan would allow teams to return to the comforts of their spring training sites for three weeks of training, which would also include exhibition games, before opening the regular season and playing a schedule with wholly different divisional opponents,” the report noted.
Instead of the American League and National League, MLB teams would be split into the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, which is how spring training is currently aligned. That means the Boston Red Sox play in the same division as the Atlanta Braves, and the Chicago Cubs become divisional rivals with the Oakland Athletics.
The teams would play an abbreviated season and could start later in the summer, allowing a World Series to be played in a domed stadium in late November.
The new plan came about after another idea that would have had all MLB teams stationed in Arizona, spread out across spring training and other facilities. But as USA Today noted, the new suggestion allows teams to be in the familiar facilities they use during spring training, and could spread out games over the course of an entire day.
It’s not clear how other logistics of the current plan would work, but the Arizona season idea would have required rapid and widespread coronavirus testing and a slew of other changes to ensure that players maintained a safe distance from one another. Any plan would also likely depend on local and federal government officials lifting restrictions on public gatherings that have been put in place since the initial outbreak of the virus.
As the USA Today report noted, the suggestion of splitting teams between Florida and Arizona seemed to have at least some support, with Los Angeles Angels senior advisor of baseball operations Tony La Russa praising the creativity of ideas being floated.
“When you’re trying to get really creative, why say no now? So you have a unique season. I’ve got no problem with that,” he said. “I’m not sure we’ll be able play in our own cities across the country, so if you split it up like that, it’s a possibility.”