The format for the MLB playoff bubble is set. There won’t be a home-field advantage in the Division Series, League Championship or World Series.
MLB and the MLB Players Association have agreed on a bubble format that’ll have each round hosted in a bubble.
Petco Park, Dodger Stadium, Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Field are the host stadiums. Petco and Dodger Stadium belong to National League teams, but they will host the American League playoffs, and vice versa for the American League stadiums.
The AL Wild Card series round will begin on Sept. 29. The NL wild-card games will start on Sept. 30, ending no later than Oct. 2.
The Phillies would play the Chicago Cubs under the current standings, and the winner would play in Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
The ALDS and NLDS will begin on Oct. 5 and 6, respectively, ending by Oct. 10. All games will be televised on Fox, FS1, TBS and MLB Network.
This seems to be a well-thought-out plan. Safety is the first concern, and having the MLB playoffs interrupted due to a COVID-19 breakout would be devastating. While MLB has mostly kept its cases under control, the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals both had COVID-19 breakouts, and the playoffs' tight schedule is harder to make up than just adding on doubleheaders in the regular season.
The bubble has proven to be safe. It’s worked in the NBA, WNBA, MLS and NHL. This is the safest way for baseball to handle postseason play without interruption.
Three of the four stadiums mentioned above are of teams who are firmly in playoff contention. While playoff games will be hosted on the Padres, Dodgers and Astros' home fields, neither team should get a home-field advantage in the World Series.
Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, will host the World Series. The Rangers are 9.5 games out of a wild-card playoff berth with 13 games to play. Barring a miracle of miracles, they aren’t making the postseason, let alone getting to the World Series.
It seems as if baseball has made its best decision yet on handling the pandemic. Plus, there’s a chance limited fans could experience games, and players may be able to bring along family members.
Elimination day in basketball
There will be a lot of heartbreak and happiness in basketball today.
In the “Wubble,” the Connecticut Sun and Chicago Sky will play, then the defending champion Washington Mystics will face the Phoenix Mercury. Both games are single elimination.
The Sun made the WNBA Finals last season, but they have their work cut out in 2020. Connecticut started the season 0-5, but players have stepped up around MVP candidate DeWanna Bonner, and two-time All-Star Alyssa Thomas is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year.
They’ll battle one of the league’s most potent offenses. The Sky are paced by passing maestro and WNBA assist-leader Courtney Vandersloot, who set the WNBA record by averaging 10.0 assists per game. Allie Quigley is a certified bucket-getter, plus Cheyenne Parker and Philly native Kahleah Copper are having the best seasons of their careers.
The Mystics look much different without last season’s league MVP, Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver and Natasha Cloud. Mike Thibault’s squad squeezed their way into the postseason with a 9-13 record, and they’ll have their hands full with the Mercury.
Like the Mystics, the Mercury are without key players Brittney Griner and Bria Hartley. However, they still have Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi making up one of the league’s most lethal backcourts. Plus, don’t forget that Taurasi has a career 13-1 record in winner-take-all games.
The Eastern Conference Finals begin today in the NBA bubble, but Game 7 between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers will be must-see TV. Either the Clippers will advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history, or the Nuggets will be the first NBA team to ever come back from two 3-1 deficits in a single playoff campaign.
WNBA action can be seen tonight starting at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, and NBA will begin at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Capitals hire Peter Laviolette to get them over the hump
The Washington Capitals are hiring Peter Laviolette as their next head coach.
Laviolette has coached the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, and Nashville Predators. He has a 637-425-25 coaching in 18 seasons.
The Capitals are hiring Laviolette to get them over the hump. Washington has lost in the first round of the NHL playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Laviolette’s achievements suggest that he can get the job done. He has 11 40-win seasons and led the Flyers and Predators to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 and 2017, respectively. His biggest achievement was winning the Stanley Cup with Hurricanes in 2006, becoming the fourth American-born coach to do so.
Laviolette spent the last six seasons in Nashville. He still had a year on his contract with the Predators, but the Capitals are expected to eat that salary. His new deal is reportedly for three years, worth more than $4 million per year.