While everything in the baseball world remains up in the air, three separate national reports have emerged within the last 48 hours that portray optimism about the 2020 regular season.
Citing executives around the league, the New York Post, USA Today and ESPN have each laid out baseball's potential "roadmap" in 2020. The idea is to ramp back up in June and prepare to return by early July. Obviously, that is subject to change. About a month ago, the possibility existed that baseball operations could be back up and running at some point in May, which is now not a reality.
This is one of the reasons that most teams have committed to their employees through May 31. June could bring the new circumstances baseball fans, players and media are craving.
"There is both more information now and, thus, more optimism," Joel Sherman wrote Tuesday.
The idea of playing all games in Arizona, or splitting the season between two or three states is still a possibility. However, if you polled most players, managers and coaches around the league, they'd tell you they'd rather be in their home city. For most players, it's where their family is. It's where they are comfortable. From an organizational perspective, it would be easier to resume operations in the city where things are already set up.
Here is a key comment from an executive in Sherman's piece.
"We want to play as many games as possible. But say we knew that we could return to all or most home stadiums, but it would mean holding off another two weeks, should we just wait and do that? That is going to have to be considered."
It's difficult to see any of this taking place in front of fans, whether games are played in teams' home cities or split between Arizona, Florida and Texas.
The major key is whether or not sports leagues can gain access to many coronavirus tests with quick results. Teams will need to be able to immediately test anyone at their complex who is exhibiting symptoms and quite frankly, that might not even be enough. Numerous NBA players who tested positive were asymptomatic.
It's not as simple, though, as snatching up thousands of tests. MLB, like any other behemoth, must also consider that every test it adds could be one fewer for the general public, or for another organization that needs them more.
Here is what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top public health expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, had to say to the New York Times this week.
"I'm not saying this is the way to go, but you want to at least consider having players, if they're going to play, play in front of a TV camera without people in the audience. And then test all the players and make sure they're negative and keep them in a place where they don't have contact with anybody on the outside who you don't know whether they're positive or negative.
"That's going to be logistically difficult, but there's at least the possibility of doing that. In other words, we said that for baseball, get the players in Major League Baseball, get a couple of cities and a couple of hotels, get them tested and keep them segregated. I know it's going to be difficult for them not to be out in society, but that may be the price you pay if you want to play ball."
Per USA Today, one of MLB's considerations is a three-division format with 10 teams in each. Divisions would obviously be realigned based on simplicity and geography.
If this were to go down, the Phillies could be in a division with the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays and Marlins.
Of the 10 teams, the Phillies are probably fourth- or fifth-best after the Yankees, Nats and Rays, depending on how you view the 2020 Mets.
Again, much is still up in the air.
How many games?
Ideally, MLB would like to fit in around 100 regular-season games. Keep in mind that player salaries will be prorated based on the number of games played so they all have the incentive to play. And MLB itself stands to lose around $5 billion if there's no season. That also kinda matters.