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#pounditFriday, April 16, 2021

Articles tagged: MLB

MLB hopes to have fans for playoffs, World Series

Rob Manfred

MLB is hoping to have fans in attendance for some postseason games this year.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke in an online event for Hofstra’s business school on Monday and shared his desires. He said they are hoping to have fans for the League Championship Series games and World Series.

“I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity,” Manfred said, via The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. “I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games.”

Manfred reminded those watching that MLB generates around 40 percent of its revenues from having fans present at games. Ticket sales, parking, concessions and merchandise make up a huge portion of team revenues. Playing without fans is costly for the league. That hurts owners and players, as there is less money available to pay players due to declining revenue. That is why they want to start getting fans back.

The NFL had fans at some games in Week 1, as did college football. For now, the ability to have fans largely depends on the permissions from local cities.

MLB is planning to host its postseason in two different cities for the Division Series and beyond. The Los Angeles area will host the American League and Texas will have the National League. Here is what the MLB playoff format will look like for 2020.

Report: MLB planning ban on champagne celebrations for 2020

Red Sox celebrate

Major League Baseball’s playoff celebrations are going to look different in 2020.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB is finalizing protocols to govern postgame clinching celebrations. One of the directives is expected to be a ban on alcohol in a bid to limit contact and enforce social distancing.

There will be other changes as well. The league will ask players to celebrate on the field instead of in the clubhouse, and to wear masks while doing so. The commemorative hats and t-shirts that are traditionally handed out during the celebration will be shared in a way that limits contact.

MLB can only regulate so much, and the league knows that. There’s not really anything they can do to stop players from hugging or celebrating in the clubhouse. The alcohol ban should be strictly enforceable, though.

Teams typically spend a small fortune on champagne for celebrations. There will be no need for that in 2020. It should create some odd sights in and around clubhouses, though.

Report: MLB proposes ‘Baseball Cup’ involving minor league teams

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are negotiating their future relationship for the 2021 season and beyond. During those negotiations, MLB put forward a proposal that would tie the two together tighter than ever before.

According to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, MLB proposed a “Baseball Cup” that would involve a combination of all MLB and MiLB teams. 150 teams would compete in a single-elimination tournament, with teams from Class A theoretically facing MLB squads.

The idea is inspired by European soccer, where these competitions are common. It’s also similar to the NCAA Tournament minus the selection process.

For now, this is only a proposal. The logistical hurdles that would need to be overcome are massive. MLB teams and players would have to approve the concept. Scheduling of games between the MLB and MiLB seasons would also be a huge challenge.

It’s an interesting idea, though, and shows that MLB may seek closer ties to its minor league affiliates. It could help financially, too, as some MiLB clubs have had to get creative to make money lately.

Report: Multiple MLB teams considering not playing Wednesday

Rob Manfred

Multiple Major League Baseball teams are considering not playing Wednesday night in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake.

The Milwaukee Brewers decided not to play Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers are joining the Milwaukee Bucks in protesting social injustice in light of the shooting, which took place in nearby Kenosha.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, several other teams are considering following suit and refusing to play.

This comes on the heels of the Bucks refusing to play their playoff game Wednesday. That move spread to two other games, with the NBA season now essentially on hold. Now, that form of protest has begun to spread through MLB.

Report: World Series could be played in Texas under MLB playoff bubble plan

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball continues to give serious consideration to a bubble-type system for the playoffs.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, plans are being laid out to play playoff games at neutral sites. The American League would play in Southern California, while the National League would be in Texas. Globe Life Field, The Texas Rangers’ new ballpark, could host the World Series. None of the planning is final at this time.

Other sites are still being discussed, but these locations make sense. MLB would have three stadiums in Southern California at its disposal. NL teams could play in both Dallas and Houston. Winter weather would be highly unlikely to impact either state as well. Both stadiums in Texas have retractable roofs even if weather is an issue.

This is a more focused version of an earlier proposal. It’s also similar to what the NHL has done successfully to play its playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton.

Report: Texas, California considered favorites for MLB playoff bubble

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball is strongly considering the possibility of modeling its postseason after the NHL’s bubble plan, which would mean games will be played in two hub cities. As of now, the most likely states to host those playoff contests are California and Texas.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Emily Kaplan reported on Tuesday that MLB is in the early stages of drafting an operating manual for a playoff bubble. League officials continue to discuss potential host sites, and California and Texas are considered the favorites. One proposed plan would involve the two National League division series being played in San Diego and the two American League division series taking place in Arlington, Texas. MLB could then move the league championship series to a single site or continue to use two cities until the World Series.

Other possibilities for host locations include New York, Chicago and Milwaukee. Weather could be a consideration as well, which is likely one of the main reasons California and Texas are generating the most interest.

The NHL has used a two-hub format with Eastern Conference teams in Toronto and Western Conference teams in Edmonton. All games will be moved to Edmonton starting with the conference finals. The format has been successful thus far, and MLB officials have been seeking insight from the NHL to determine the best way to proceed.

MLB has had to postpone several games due to coronavirus outbreaks, while the bubble campuses with both the NBA and NHL have been an overall success to this point. It makes sense that MLB would want to switch to a similar plan for the playoffs, though players were opposed to committing to a bubble for the regular season. The same may be true for the postseason.

Report: MLB in ‘serious talks’ about two-city postseason bubble

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball’s considerations of creating a bubble for postseason games are apparently growing more serious.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Wednesday that the league is in “serious talks” about a possible playoff bubble. The league is said to prefer a two-city bubble, with California, Texas, and Chicago-Milwaukee under consideration as potential sites.

The consideration of a bubble was reported Tuesday, but it certainly sounds like it’s gaining momentum within the league.

One issue that the league will have to face is October weather. That’s likely why places like New York aren’t under consideration, and why Chicago’s two outdoor stadiums may prove challenging. Southern California would likely be the best option for the league if possible, as the weather is nice and two stadiums in Los Angeles and a third in San Diego provide ample options.

The league had initially decided against a bubble for the season, and top players were opposed to that idea. That’s not changing. A postseason bubble would be more feasible with fewer teams needing to be accommodated and a shorter period of time that players would be required to be away from family.

Reports: MLB considering bubble for postseason

Rob Manfred

The “bubble” setups of the NHL and NBA have worked successfully so far, and MLB would like to follow their lead if possible in order to give the postseason a best chance of taking place uninterrupted, according to reports.

Both the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Monday that MLB is considering a bubble for the postseason. Such a bubble scenario would limit travel and possibly restrict player movement, which would give a higher chance of a successful postseason.

Though MLB originally considered the possibility of a bubble, the logistics were difficult to pull off due to the amount of people who would need to be involved, which is much more compared to the amount of players on an NHL or NBA roster. Additionally, many top players like Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw voiced opposition to being in a bubble away from their family for an extended period of time and seemingly rejected the idea.

But MLB has seen what has happened when COVID-19 outbreaks hit the Miami Marlins, who did not play for eight days, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who have not played since July, and recognizes an outbreak in the postseason would be highly problematic.

Passan says a bubble could take place in Southern California where there are two MLB stadiums nearby (Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Angel Stadium 30 miles away in Anaheim). NL teams could stay in one LA hotel and play at Dodger Stadium, while AL teams do the same in Orange County and play at Angel Stadium. Petco Park could even be used if needed for the first round of the playoffs since there would be eight series taking place and host two of the series. The other advantage of Southern California is that the weather likely would be nice enough for baseball to be played, and it could limit the spread of the virus.

Other regions could also be considered for this kind of setup, such as New York and Chicago, which both have two MLB teams.

MLB moving to 28-man rosters for rest of season and playoffs

Rob Manfred

In light of two teams suffering COVID-19 outbreaks, Major League Baseball has made a change to the roster size for the remainder of the season.

Teams had been allowed to carry 30 players since the start of the season. That was slated to go down to 28 on Thursday, and then to 26 after two weeks. As first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, however, the league still stick with 28-man rosters for the remainder of the season, as well as the postseason.

In addition to the outbreaks, numerous teams have had one or two players test positive at any given time. Expanding the roster size will allow teams to deal with these issues more easily without having to rely on the taxi squads.

There was originally some consideration to extending 30-man rosters, but 28 appears to be a fair compromise for the rest of the season.

MLB star reportedly threatened to get teammates traded if they violated safety protocol

MLB logo

There is growing frustration among some MLB players about their colleagues not taking health and safety protocols seriously, but make no mistake, there are plenty taking things seriously.

In light of the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak, some players appear to be taking steps to police their teammates’ behavior to prevent similar situations elsewhere. According to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, one “prominent” player told teammates that he would get them traded if they weren’t mindful of the league’s safety protocols.

It will likely take this sort of policing to keep everybody in line. Players do want to finish the season, but everyone must adhere to the protocols or there’s a risk of that not happening.

There is reportedly real anger around the league toward the Marlins, who are said to have violated safety protocols on a recent road trip. Chatter like this would definitely back up the reality of that anger.