Coronavirus has Limited Impact on 2020 MLB Season

Jackson Beltrandi
Sports Business Writer

The Coronavirus has had a large impact on the social dynamic we have with sports. While health and safety are most important and the top priority, American business has taken a huge hit and our major league sports are no different. However, the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL have come up with various plans to continue their seasons, some inside their own “bubbles.”

The Miami Marlins suffered the first major COVID outbreak in MLB, but have recovered and currently hold a playoff position
(Photo Courtesy of Athlon Sports)

The MLB has decided to have a shortened season reducing their normal schedule of 162 games to 60 games. The “bubble” element that the MLB has implemented is daily instant testing, where results can get back in 1-2 days. While this testing is not perfect, it is still the most efficient the world has at this point in time. The MLB has remained strong in their season, with only two outbreaks from the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, which since have been controlled.

In a traditional season, teams will play across the country against their league opponents and sometimes interleague series. However, the 2020 season is seeing teams play only within their division and the corresponding division in the other league. For example, the New York Yankees will only play their AL East division opponents and the NL East teams.

This new format has shown that it is not possible to do the traditional 10 team playoffs that the MLB has done for the past few decades. Due to the shortened season, it is not fair to use the traditional format because teams are not able to really perform to their true ability in less than half the normal games. Due to this, the MLB is taking eight teams from each league, totaling more than half the majors. These teams are the division leaders and second place finishers, and then the two best teams beyond those six in each league.

The MLB is still pondering the idea of playing the playoffs in a bubble, or in centralized locations so teams will not have to travel to facilities across the country. While seeing the success the NBA has had with their bubble, it is hard to imagine a world where the MLB does not group their teams together to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also not logical to be traveling across the country just to have the aspect of a different stadium, especially since there are no fans allowed at the games. The only issue with the bubble is the time frame. The MLB has not set aside enough time between regular and postseason play, so testing and traveling to a centralized location will be very difficult to prevent any positive tests. There is not enough time to quarantine, then travel, then quarantine again at this new location. However, I do believe the MLB will figure it out and have centralized postseason baseball.


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