Report: MLB Holding Preliminary Discussions About Playoff Bubble Amid COVID-19

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2020

Opening Day logo painted on the field with the black ribbon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to a baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, July 24, 2020, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 5-2. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The NBA and NHL have proved that it is possible to hold sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic in a bubble-like environment and avoid outbreaks, and Major League Baseball reportedly may follow suit.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, MLB is holding "preliminary discussions" about having its playoffs in a bubble-like model. The discussions have come after outbreaks within the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins have led to a number of postponed games.

Passan noted MLB is looking at a multicity format, much like the NHL did with Toronto and Edmonton, and could hold its wild-card round in three hub cities before holding later rounds in two cities.

The report cited sources who said no favorites have emerged for potential host cities, although Chicago, New York and Southern California could stand out because they all have multiple MLB teams and stadiums.

COVID-19 outbreaks and postponed games have been a defining feature of the early portion of the season even though they have been limited to the Marlins and Cardinals to this point.

Miami's season was on hold for eight days, while St. Louis has not played since July 29. The Cardinals saw two series against the Detroit Tigers, as well as National League Central series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, postponed.

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Finishing the 60-game season in a small window will be difficult for the Cardinals at this point, even with seven-inning doubleheaders now in play.

Such a delay because of an outbreak would completely upheave baseball's playoffs, which will be expanded to 16 teams this year.

The plan as of now is for the better seeds in each league to host every contest of the best-of-three wild-card round games, but later series would feature much more traveling. Holding the postseason in a bubble would cut down on that travel and theoretically expose the players and staff to less risk.