Another day of quarantine means another day of the MLB floating a contingency plan for when the season eventually begins. While the latest proposal isn’t quite as radical as the “bubble city” concept reported by ESPN on Wednesday, it’s just as intriguing.
USA Today cited a high-ranking league official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, here’s the meat of it:
The plan would have all 30 teams returning to their spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, playing regular-season games only in those two states and without fans in an effort to reduce travel and minimize risks in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The divisions would be realigned based on the geography of their spring training homes.
The plan would allow teams to return to the comforts of their spring training sites for three weeks of training, which would also include exhibition games, before opening the regular season and playing a schedule with wholly different divisional opponents.
This would reportedly put the Phillies in a division with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Tigers. That would be quite a reprieve from what figured to be a highly competitive NL East—with the Yankees as the only legitimate playoff club of the bunch.
Despite being in different leagues, Phillies-Yankees would have the potential to bubble into a real heated rivalry. The proximity (and general rivalry) of the two cities, the fairly recent history of the ‘09 World Series, and former Yanks’ skipper Joe Girardi now in red pinstripes are just a few angles that would give this matchup the same sort of life that we feel vs. the Mets or Braves.
Much like the “bubble city” proposal, this is merely speculation—I don’t expect the league to make any concrete decisions for a few weeks at the earliest. Regardless, it’s hard to deny that a Yankees-Phillies one-off rivalry would be pretty fun.
I understand if you can’t stomach the idea of baseball without fans, or the idea of no baseball at Citizen’s Bank Park, but if this is the best we can get without cancelling the season then I’m all for it.