MLB Reportedly Considering Late-Season Lockdowns for Contending Teams

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2020

A view of the video board showing the Opening Day logos prior to a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Friday, July 24, 2020. The Reds won 7-1. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

Major League Baseball reportedly told its Players Association that it would prefer to have players on contending teams lock down in hotels rather than return to their homes and families during the final week of the regular season.  

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the news, noting "the idea of such a quarantine would be for players to get through the thick of the incubation period for COVID-19 before the expanded playoffs begin."

MLB has not yet decided if it will play its playoffs in a bubble-like environment from the beginning or after the best-of-three wild-card rounds.

"If you're going home to your family, you're at risk," one expert said, per Rosenthal. "Even if you do everything right, you can't control what the people you live with are doing."

Rosenthal reported the union is also motivated to finish the postseason and "thought to be open to any ideas that will help."

The report noted players will be tested for COVID-19 every day instead of every other day during the postseason. What's more, the league is discussing potentially holding the American League playoffs in Southern California parks such as Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and Petco Park and the National League postseason in Texas' Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Field.

Under such a plan, the World Series would be in Arlington, although nothing has been approved or finalized.

The baseball season has continued during the pandemic, but not without issues.

There were outbreaks within the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins organizations that caused postponements and schedule adjustments. In fact, the Cardinals' first game following their July 29 loss to the Minnesota Twins was on Aug. 15, while the Marlins' first game after a July 26 win over the Philadelphia Phillies was on Aug. 4.

In part to make up for those missed games and because such outbreaks can happen again, the league changed doubleheaders to seven innings for each contest.

Another massive change this year was expanding the playoffs to eight teams per league. However, if it can pull off this proposed plan of players locking down in hotels during the final week of the season, it could have the wild-card rounds in the home stadiums of the better seed.

That would mean fewer teams in the playoff bubbles when they open in the ensuing round and less risk of COVID-19 spreading.