Another proposal to start the season has issues - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Another proposal to start the season has issues

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Fantasy baseball isn’t for me. I haven’t been simulating the first weeks of what would have been the Orioles’ season.

I have been closely following another kind of fantasy baseball — the proposals that have been floated for beginning the 2020 season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines limiting gatherings to 50 people remain in effect for another four weeks, and it’s not known if that will be lifted on May 10.

Until then, there will be more reports such as the one from USA Today on Friday. Unlike another one from earlier in the week that suggested all 30 teams could be quarantined in Arizona for the season, the other would send teams back to their spring training sites in Arizona and Florida to at least begin the season.

Fifteen teams train in Florida and Arizona. Based on geography, the Orioles would be part of a five-team division with Boston, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Atlanta.

The Yankees and Blue Jays would be in a division with Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The five teams that train on the East Coast — Houston, Miami, the New York Mets, St. Louis and Washington — would be in another division.

The traditional American and National League setup would be discarded.

This plan seems more workable than the 30-team Arizona one, but there are still many details to be sorted out.

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How would you account for the 15th team each day? Presumably in a shorter schedule, there would be more games and fewer off days.

During spring training when 15 teams are on the schedule, there’s always one split-squad game. That’s fine for spring training, but unless one team plays games in the morning and evening against two other teams each day, I don’t see how that works.

The weather in Florida isn’t as brutal as it is in Phoenix, where temperatures in June, July and August average over 100 degrees, but it’s plenty hot and, in many parts of Florida, afternoon rain in the summer is nearly a daily occurrence.

Florida has two major league stadiums, Tropicana Field and Marlins Park that are domed, which could help the weather issue.

Many of the 13 spring training sites in Florida are fine for Grapefruit League games but would have issues for major league games.

Replay capabilities would have to be added, and many of the parks are short on space.

Supposedly there wouldn’t be crowds; games would likely be sparsely attended in many parks, anyway. Recent polls indicate that fans would be leery of attending games with large crowds until there’s a vaccine for the coronavirus widely available.

Selfishly, I’d want to know if the press would be allowed. Many of the spring training parks have very small press boxes where social distancing would be impractical.

Most of the Grapefruit League parks are used for the High-A Florida State League (Sarasota is an exception), and the lights are passable for exhibition games but not up to major league standards.

With the expanded rosters that would be needed, the training camps could be used to keep replacement players ready. There’s been no chatter about what would happen to the minor leagues in this scenario.

Let’s say the Florida plan becomes reality. We can assume the Orioles would play the majority of their games against the Braves, Rays, Red Sox and Twins.

Last season, the Orioles were a combined 14-30 against Boston, Minnesota and Tampa Bay. They were 7-12 when facing the Rays and Red Sox and dropped all six games against the Twins.

They didn’t face Atlanta and weren’t scheduled to play them this year.

The schedule probably would be brutal because the Braves, Rays and Twins were considered playoff favorites and, while the Red Sox seemed to be taking a step back, they would still be a tough opponent.

One of the few favorable parts of this scenario would be avoiding 19 games with the Yankees. In 2019, the Orioles won two of their first three games at Yankee Stadium, then lost 17 in a row.

Geographically, nine opponents are within a 90-minute drive, cutting down on travel.

Oriole games would be on television, but would viewers starved for live sports find games in small, empty parks to be compelling?

Until more progress is made against the virus, nothing can be solidified, and it’s fine that proposals continue to be floated. It shows there’s some level of cooperation between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, but everyday life must return to some form of normalcy before baseball and other sports can return.

Call for questions: I’ll be answering reader questions later this week. Please email them: [email protected] or leave them in the comments section.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 13, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Frankly Rich, I’m not a fan of any of these ideas. I don’t think I’d have a problem watching the boys playing in empty ballparks, but why do the parks HAVE to be in Arizona and Florida? I understand the thought is to reduce travel and to tighten up quarantine, but certainly those issues could be addressed and fixed while they play in their own parks. The real problem with the Florida/Arizona suggestions is …for me anyway … that temporarily realigning divisions and even leagues simply would not be acceptable. It would make the games pointless. I have a hard time believing the vast majority of ball fans would accept it either. I can live a summer without baseball. It’s not desirable, but I’ve done it before. The greediness of both players and owners forced it upon us in the past and both we and the game survived. Now I’m just wondering if the greediness of the owners and players are going to force it on us in some perverted format this year. I’d rather just wait for next year if I have to.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

      MLB doesn’t want to lose an entire season. If that’s the case, they could go 17 months–from October 2019-March 2021 without a meaningful games. The NBA and NHL played games last month and the Super Bowl was a little over two months ago. If the NFL, NBA and NHL are able to play this fall, they could lose minimal time compared with baseball.

      iN something I wrote last week, Ken, I wondered why players couldn’t play games in empty parks in their home cities, in some cases. If players self-quarantine at their hotels, and they’re coming to the ballparks and traveling by charter planes, could that work?

      I think we’re still a long way away from answering those questions.

  2. CalsPals

    April 13, 2020 at 8:23 am

    I guess my biggest issue is it would be deemed to dangerous for fans to have them in attendance, but ok for teams, staff, workers to be there, sounds like a parent, do as I say, not as I do…if it’s that bad they can’t have fans then they shouldn’t have games…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 13, 2020 at 11:09 am

      Fans are hungry to watch games in the major sports, Ray, and for obvious reasons, it would be awful to lose an entire season. I think they’re just throwing out any idea at this point.

    • CalsPals

      April 13, 2020 at 11:33 am

      I agree with you Rich, I miss it just as much, but we really shouldn’t do anything until it’s safe…go O’s….

    • CalsPals

      April 13, 2020 at 11:33 am

      For everyone…go O’s…

  3. Orial

    April 13, 2020 at 8:50 am

    The only plausible plan is to bring the teams home to their respective cities and start an abbreviated schedule @7/15. But like Boog said travel and flights would be counter productive. Playing in Fla,AZ has it’s possibilities out of desperation. Either in Balt,NY,Philly orAz/Fla the crowds would be minimal even if allowed in. Tough call and very sad. I’m reluctantly calling for shutting it down entirely and getting everybody safe and healthy. Side note: I just canceled my MLB Extra Innings package in anticipation of this.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 13, 2020 at 11:10 am

      Orial, I’d love to offer a prediction, but it wouldn’t be much good here.

  4. TxBirdFan

    April 13, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I actually like the new proposal for a shortened season. It keeps players off planes and out of multiple hotel rooms, buses etc. I don’t think the Govt should allow gatherings over 100 people anywhere in the country until a vaccine is created, so fans aren’t going to be allowed for any sports venue this year. However, the players need to stay in shape and if you can create competition in a safe environment for them why not televise some games for those of us who are isolated and shut in?

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 13, 2020 at 11:11 am

      I don’t hate the Florida proposal, TX, but would be surprised to see it come to fruition.

  5. cedar

    April 13, 2020 at 10:23 am

    I think this plan is an improvement on the first one but I still like the idea (was it Rich’s?) to start the season after the all-star break. This alternative allows for the league to take their time and plan the schedule which I feel is the hardest part of putting together any shortened season.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 13, 2020 at 11:12 am

      I haven’t floated any plans of my own, Cedar. I have seen the July proposal, among many others. I’m sure MLB is working on alternative schedules now in case they get the go-ahead.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    April 13, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Swear I’ve heard this idea before…

    I saw the proposed divisions and couldn’t help but notice the Yankees would be lining up with 4 cupcakes in Philly (just OK), Toronto (long way from respectable) Detroit and Pittsburgh (awful). Not enthused about that at all.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 13, 2020 at 11:14 am

      It’s being done geographically, Bancells. The five Florida East Coast teams is easy. Detroit is sort of in no-man’s land, and the Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays all train in the Tampa area.

  7. kaj21206

    April 13, 2020 at 11:14 am

    I’m in favor of the plan. A shortened season of baseball is better than none. No season delays the rebuild. We’ve had champions of abbreviated seasons before and the world didn’t end. This solution is better than the strike season of 1981.

  8. Birdman

    April 13, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I’m skeptical that baseball as simply a TV production played in empty stadiums can succeed with the public. And would the owners be obligated to pay full current salary levels to the players, even with empty stadiums? If so, wouldn’t that be a financial disaster for the owners?

    One thing I do like about the proposal is the possibility of divisional realignments. If the Orioles are perpetually locked in the same division every year with two teams (Yanks and Sox) that have 300% – 500% higher payrolls, there isn’t much hope.

  9. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 13, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Calling what is mostly a bunch of 20 somethings loser for tossing around a football is kinda harsh don’t you think?

  10. Eastern Sho Joe

    April 13, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    I haven’t really seen anything on how the Minors would work. MLB teams will still have to deal with injuries, slumps, etc., so won’t this require players on the farm be ready to be called up?

    What about those in the Minors who have to get MLB playing time this year per contact? I’ve not seen much on how arbitration will work with a short season either.

    Has there been any news on what the Owners, Player Union, MLB, etc will agree to? Anyone else see this being a litigation nightmare?

  11. ptmt86

    April 13, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    This is a tough one. I don’t want to see the season canceled. But, I want everyone to maintain their health too. Playing in a empty stadium? Hmmm? Arizona/Florida. Tea your pick for the two. Hot and humid or hot and dry.

  12. BirdsCaps

    April 13, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    I have no idea which plan is the best, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are changes mid season (assuming there is a season). What those changes are could be anything from loosening quarantines on players to (fingers really crossed) fans at games. In order for any of these to happen, we need more data and probably a somewhat proven antiviral (from what I understand some of the “hard” studies will be out June/July.). Also, the fatality rate needs to be discovered. Using antibody tests and sampling a population ( similar to polling in politics) very early findings have found that the virus is bad, but nowhere near the 3-4% rate that were currently looking at. So, in short, I’m cautiously optimistic.

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