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#pounditFriday, May 7, 2021

Report: MLB reconsidering potential bubble plan to play 2020 season

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After originally ruling out the possibility of playing regular season games in a bubble similar to the NBA, Major League Baseball has reportedly put that option back on the table.

According to Jared Diamond and Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal, MLB officials are once again looking at a plan that would see players, coaches, and other staff members report to a centralized location and essentially quarantine themselves in order to play games. Southern California is being explored as one possible area.

The thinking comes amid rising concern about confirmed COVID-19 cases within the sport. Diamond and Cohen state that 11 players from seven different teams have tested positive in the last two weeks. On Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies shut down their training facility in Florida after five players and three staff members tested positive. The Toronto Blue Jays did the same when one player exhibited symptoms consistent with the virus. The Blue Jays case is also pertinent because the team had been preparing to use that facility to potentially host games.

This is not a positive development, and only adds to the many issues that the league is trying to sort out. After all, there is still no deal to start the season, as the league and MLBPA continue to haggle over schedule length and other issues.

The NBA’s bubble plan may end up being the template here if MLB decides that such a plan is necessary. A leading government expert has endorsed that plan and suggested that other leagues may follow it. That will be harder with baseball — unlike in the NBA, rosters are larger, teams typically play daily, and MLB games last longer than NBA ones do. Those are the logistical issues that are likely being discussed right now.

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