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Bryce Harper offers his own ambitious plan for 2020 season


PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 30: Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) heads to the dugout during the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies on May 30, 2019, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Late Friday, Bryce Harper played the role of commissioner and released his own plan for the 2020 Major League Baseball season on Instagram:

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Baseball Season:⠀ Beyond the health and safety which comes first for all players, staff, workers, fans, and families. ⠀ ⠀ Just an idea I have been thinking about. ⠀ ⠀ East/West like NBA. ⠀ ⠀ July 31 days⠀ August 31 days ⠀ September 30 days ⠀ October 31 days ⠀ November 15 days ⠀ 135 games. ⠀ Off day every 2 weeks on a Monday and Sunday double header 7 innings. ⠀ ⠀ 30 players. 6 man rotation. Save arms. IF pitchers wanted this. If not no big deal. DH and any other ideas possible.⠀ ⠀ Playoffs ⠀ 2 week World Series. Like Super bowl week. ⠀ ⠀ 10 teams round robin format College World Series kinda style at the new Texas Stadium or whatever stadium/ stadiums are best. 3 game series. You win the series you move on. You lose you play the other loser in a 1 game wildcard. Winner of that moves on. Other team is out. ⠀ Or you could play it in Vegas so you have the Strip Hotels and could use one hotel for all the guys and contain possibly? ⠀ ⠀ 2 teams left 7 game World Series. They get 2 days off before the series. With those 2 days off you do a All Star Game and homerun derby. Could do the MLB awards as well at that time. ⠀ ⠀ Open this up on all platforms. No blackouts. Open it for everybody to watch. ⠀ Then you back up season the next 2 years. May 1st 2021. April 1st 2022. Maybe I’m crazy. Just fun to think about and throw around ideas🤪

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The plan includes a 135-game season starting in July and ending in November. Schedules are regionalized, similar to the NBA and NHL except for this season, teams on the east coast would not travel to the west coast and vice versa. Instead of a traditional postseason that lasts a month, Harper’s plan calls for a two-week postseason with a round-robin format similar to that of the College World Series. All games are played at a neutral site. The World Series itself would be a seven-game series. The 2021 regular season would have to be pushed back a month to account for the length of the 2020 season.

Judging by his interview on Starting 9, it’s clear Harper has plenty of creative macro-level ideas regarding baseball and its current and future direction. He advocated for major league players to go to the Olympics and heavily criticized blackout restrictions.

The round-robin playoff format is probably the most intriguing part of Harper’s plan. The postseason calls for a centralized location, which would minimize the risk of infection. A one-game playoff for those in the loser’s bracket is an excellent way to please fans who enjoy the excitement surrounding the wild-card game, which would be eliminated in MLB’s current 2020 proposal.

The plan’s biggest flaw is that it stretches too long into the calendar year. Perhaps an even bigger challenge than getting a season started is finishing one. Medical experts agree that a second wave is inevitable so the league has to give itself the best chance to stage postseason games by not pushing them back well into the fall.

Harper’s brainstorming exercise was merely that but it begs the question of whether or not player input should have been included in the process of formulating a plan to return to action. The idea is much better than some of the ones that floated around in the last few weeks. The league could have benefited if they expanded its circle and listened to what some of its stars thought as they are more likely to be better in-tuned to what fans want to see.

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