MLB Reportedly Proposing Bizarre Plan to Restart Season in May: All Games Played in Phoenix; Players, Coaches Sequestered Until Outbreak Ends

 

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Major League Baseball and its players’ union are reportedly considering a highly complex and unorthodox plan to be able to restart the sport as early as next month — which would involve radical changes to the game and could end up sequestering players and coaches for the entire season if the coronavirus outbreak stretches throughout the summer.

According to ESPN, the league’s unusual proposal for jump-starting the 2020 season next month has gained the blessing of high-ranking public health officials. But to comply with online social distancing guidelines and anticipated lockdowns in many states where teams play, MLB would attempt to centrally locate all the teams in one metropolitan area and emplace numerous new rules to prevent the spread amongst players, coaches, and umpires.

Per ESPN, the league’s plan “would dictate all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the greater Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institute of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.”

In addition, the league is proposing other, possible in-game rule changes to comply with public health rules to stop the spread of coronavirus. These could include:

– Players and coaches sitting in the stands, spaced at least six feet apart, rather than in the dugout.

– Using an electronic strike zone to calls balls and strikes, so the home plate umpire could remain separated from the batter and catcher.

– No mound visits from catchers or coaches.

– Implementing seven-inning double-headers, to possibly catch up on missed games and achieve a 162-game regular season.

– Increased use of on-field microphones worn by players for TV broadcasts.

Negotiations are ongoing about just how many members of each team would be mandated to live inside the proposed “bubble” which could also include representatives from team executives, scouts, and media.

“As consequential and potentially tricky as some of the challenges might be,” sources told ESPN, “the league and union are motivated to make the plan work because they realize the alternative might be worse for both sides: no baseball at all in 2020.”

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