A Major League Baseball postseason bubble appears close to becoming reality.
MLB and the players union are moving closer to finalizing a plan for the final three rounds of the 2020 postseason to be played in a bubble format, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
MLB expanded its postseason field to 16 teams (eight per league) for 2020 only. If finalized, the first round, best-of-three would be played at the higher seed’s home ballpark before shifting to a bubble environment for the division series and beyond.
Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, home of the Dodgers and Padres, would host the ALDS, the latter hosting the ALCS. Globe Life Field (Rangers) and Minute Maid Park (Astros) would host the NLDS, the former hosting the NLCS and the World Series.
The AL's first-round would run Sept. 29-Oct. 1, with the NL's going Sept. 30-Oct. 2, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Passan adds the World Series would start on Oct. 20 and end no later than Oct. 28.
The NBA and NHL have found success using bubble formats for their postseasons, recording zero positive tests. MLB has weathered two COVID-19 outbreaks this season (Marlins, Cardinals) as well as numerous COVID-19-related schedule interruptions.
A bubble format gives the league its best chance to complete the postseason in full without any interruptions.
“The postseason’s a little bit different than the regular season in that it’s not really feasible to have long interruptions of play,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said on Thursday. “It follows logically that you need some extra measures in order to ensure the consistency of play and ensure player health.
“We’re going to be supportive of everything reasonable to help the league pull off the postseason.”
MLB announced last Friday one COVID-19 test came back positive from the 12,780 samples recorded in the previous week.
Per Nightengale’s report, the league and union are still trying to finalize plans for family members to join players in the bubble. The league is asking for family members to quarantine for seven days before joining player hotels.