As MLB continues to weigh different options under which the 2020 season can be salvaged, one proposal includes teams temporarily realigning into Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues this year and playing all their games (without fans, clearly) in the states where they conduct spring training. USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reported the news Friday morning:
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
This proposal would be similar to the heavily-criticized Arizona “bubble” plan that ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on earlier this week. It’d have the added benefit of every team having an official home facility, would make things a bit less crowded and hectic with teams being spread among two states rather than one, and would presumably eliminate the possibility of the league having to utilize stadiums that aren’t even in use for MLB spring training, as they likely would under the Phoenix plan.
However, the Arizona/Florida plan would require Florida teams to occasionally take long, cross-state road trips because all the spring facilities there aren’t nearly as close together as the ones in Arizona. Due to the fact that the Florida teams would be spread all across the state, it’d likely require many more TV production personnel and food and hotel workers than the Arizona plan, increasing the possibility that someone could “pop the bubble” and accidentally infect a player. And finally — the reason that the realignment would be required — Florida and Arizona teams wouldn’t be in a position to travel and face each other, meaning that some normal divisional opponents wouldn’t be able to play against each other all season long.
With AL and NL teams being in the same divisions under this proposal, the universal DH would be used for all games in what could be somewhat of a trial period for future seasons.
Per Nightengale, this is “one realignment structure” — one that makes sense in terms of travel distance. It is a bit wonky considering that the entire NL West, NL East, and AL East train in the same states and could’ve just been kept together, though the travel between NL East destinations could’ve been troublesome:
There could be as many or more holes in this proposal than the all-Arizona one — most notably, the assumption that coronavirus testing will become widely available soon enough that MLB can extensively test players and team personnel without the worry of taking resources away from those who really need them — but it provides another potential avenue for the league being able to play a 2020 season, and that makes it worth thinking about.