There might be baseball after all this summer in Philadelphia, but it could look a bit different than normal.
Major League Baseball, the Associated Press reported, is discussing a plan to begin the regular season as early as June with teams playing at their traditional home ballparks. But the games would be played without fans and the teams would be aligned in three 10-team regional divisions, disregarding the National League and American League.
The alignment, which was first reported by USA Today, would place the Phillies in the “East Division” with the New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, and Miami Marlins. The teams would play at least 100 regular-season games before an expanded postseason that could go into December and take place in warm-weather cities.
The plan would allow players to remain with their families and not in isolation like other plans called for, while also reducing the travel of a normal schedule. The plan would be subject to medical approval plus consent from government authorities. It would also be contingent on the league’s ability to regularly test 3,000 people for the coronavirus.
The “West Division” would include the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners. The “Central Division” would include the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, and Detroit Tigers.
Without fans in the stands, the owners would likely seek a concession from the players’ association, as 40% of MLB’s revenue is generated at the gates. MLB has previously floated plans to play the season in Florida and Arizona at spring-training sites and another plan to play exclusively in Arizona, and a third plan to spread games over Florida, Arizona, and Texas. None of the plans includes fans in the seats.
The baseball season was scheduled to begin on March 26, before the coronavirus canceled the rest of spring training and delayed the season until at least the middle of May. It was soon obvious that a mid-May return would not be possible and now MLB has its sights set on late June.