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MLB reportedly weighing 3-state solution to getting 2020 season underway


Aaron Nola and the Phillies are waiting on the 2020 season to start. (Ian D’Andrea)

Earlier this week, we suggested that MLB had to be nearing a decision on how they hoped to proceed with the suspended 2020 season. Apparently, they are still considering what the best solution is to coalesce around in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports says that another solution that baseball is considering would involve teams playing games in one of Arizona, Florida or Texas. Previously reported proposals have involved Arizona and/or Florida, but this is the first time that Texas has been a part of any proposal.

On one hand, the more states you involve, the more you seemingly have to figure out logistically and perhaps the more risk you face in having COVID-19 spread. For example, if you play games in three different states, things could be fine in Arizona and Texas, but if Florida has an outbreak in Coronavirus that affects players, it would likely force the season to be shut down. You would seemingly minimize that risk by playing all games in an individual state.

On the other hand, the average high temperature in Arizona in July is 103 degrees. No one’s suggesting that Texas and Florida are cold in the summer, but the more states you involve, the more domed stadiums there would be, which would minimize the amount of outdoor games teams would have to play.

It’s unclear under such a proposal where the Phillies would play a majority of their games. Presumably, Spectrum Field in Clearwater, their spring training home, would host some of their games, but it’s not known at this time if that would actually serve as their home stadium. It’s possible that teams won’t really have home stadiums in 2020, and will instead play in whatever domed stadium is available during their scheduled game. It does feel safe to assume the Phillies would be stationed in Florida, though.

Earlier this month, Bob Nightengale of USA Today was the first to report on a fairly radical proposal that would temporarily replace the American League and National League with the Cactus League and Grapefruit League, as teams would play at their spring training homes. The Phillies would fall under the Grapefruit League North in that scenario, and they would play in the same division as the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s unclear if there would be temporary realignment if the MLB moved forward with the Arizona-Florida-Texas plan.

The biggest hurdle that baseball may need to clear is finding a way to convince players – or at least a large percentage of players – to sequester at least to begin the season. Phillies righty Zack Wheeler and three-time American League MVP Mike Trout have been among those that have voiced opposition to any plan that would separate players from their families for an extended (and indefinite) period of time. At this stage, there is no indication that a plan exists to play in 2020 that won’t ask players to sequester.

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