It appears that the Major League Baseball playoffs will be played in a bubble out west.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, who appeared on the Pat McAfee Show, the 2020 MLB postseason bubble will feature the National League games in Arlington and Houston and the American League games in San Diego and Los Angeles.
BREAKING NEWS: @JeffPassan says the @MLB is going to move to bubble cities for the playoffs— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) August 28, 2020
Houston & Arlington for the National League
LA & San Diego for the American League
The World Series will be in Arlington #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/gBZ4Vt01vi
As Passan noted in the video, he believes the league has already blocked out hotel dates in Arlington, though the four locations have not been confirmed by Major League Baseball. Passan added that these plans are still coming together and nothing is set in stone.
This is significant news for Major League Baseball, which is still dealing with small batches of positive COVID-19 tests here and there. Friday’s update said no players had tested positive in the last week, but two staff members from the same team did receive positive test results.
As exhibited by the NBA and NHL’s successful testing updates, the bubble format works. Basketball’s bubble in Orlando, Fla., and hockey’s bubble in two Canadian hub cities have both achieved the goal of limiting or even completely eliminating the spread of the virus, with the exception of an occasional positive test here or there when players were still in the early phases of reporting to their respective locations. MLS and the WNBA also resumed their season under a thoroughly thought-out and ultimately successful bubble format.
By implementing a playoff bubble, MLB will drastically cut down on the amount of travel for their 16 playoff teams. Additionally, the four cities the league is expected to choose for their bubble are all in warm climates where wintry weather is nonexistent and rain is not very frequent. The two Texas stadiums also have retractable roofs to allow for baseball to be played despite less favorable weather conditions.
The biggest issue with sending 16 teams to four hub cities (presumably four teams in each city) is the risk of a larger COVID-19 outbreak. As we have seen, the virus tends to spread quite fast throughout clubhouses, and keeping several teams in one location could spell trouble if even one player tests positive.
With that said, there is optimism that a bubble will work. As made clear by today’s ESPN report, the league is already deep into plans regarding the postseason, which is set to begin in just over a month.
And with each passing day and new report, it appears more and more likely that Major League Baseball will be able to crown a champion in a unique 2020 season that has been anything but normal.