The Major League Baseball playoffs are less than three weeks away, but the schedule and postseason details haven’t yet been officially revealed. But per multiple reports, it sure sounds like Dodger Stadium will host at least a division series, whether the Dodgers advance out of the wild card round or not.
The current tentative plan, reported by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic, and Bob Nightengale at USA Today, calls for the best-of-three wild card round to be held at the home sites of the top four seeds in each league. The eight teams that advance to the division series would then move into a postseason bubble, the details of which are still being finalized.
Entering Thursday, the Dodgers have the best record in the National League by 4½ games. If the current standings hold, they would host the No. 8-seed Marlins in the first round, with potentially all three games at Dodger Stadium.
Shaikin, Rosenthal, and Nightengale all report that the remainder of the National League playoffs would be in Texas, split between Minute Maid Park in Houston and Globe Life Field in Arlington, and the American League playoffs would be in Southern California. Rosenthal mentions Angel Stadium as a possibility to host at least one series, and Shaikin says Dodger Stadium and Petco Park are the most likely locations. Nightengale says Los Angeles and San Diego would host the two ALDS, and the ALCS would be at Petco Park.
All three report that the World Series would be held in Arlington.
As for the bubble itself, Shaikin explains the goal:
Although the plans are not final, the people said discussions were more focused on the health and safety protocols for the proposed bubbles than on where they would be located. The bubble format would minimize the chance of a coronavirus outbreak like the ones that shut down the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals for more than a week, with the Oakland Athletics and New York Mets shut down for several days to ensure a positive test did not signal an outbreak. In the playoffs, an extended shutdown would mean disqualifying a team or delaying the entire postseason schedule.
It’s much easier to postpone a regular season series and just add doubleheaders later. In the postseason, an extended delay could eat into the postseason revenue, which is the reason everyone is doing this in the first place.
So it’s understandable if the sport will try to set even stricter protocols than have existed during the regular season, even if at times it has seemed like MLB was flying by the seat of their pants.
For family members, it is proposing three options:
• Quarantine from shortly before the end of the regular season through the wild-card round, then join the players for the Division Series either at home by flying on the team charter or private charter to a road site.
• Quarantine for seven days later, and enter the bubble for the LCS.
• Do not quarantine at all, but attend games as the league’s guests (if local health regulations permit) and engage in limited, socially distanced interactions with players without staying at their hotels.
Justin Turner is quoted by Rosenthal as against the family quarantine idea — “You’re asking us to choose between our families and the playoffs?” he asked — but just because something might have worked during the regular season doesn’t mean the league shouldn’t take extra precautions for the playoffs.
It’s not ideal for players to be separated from their families for a week. In the discussed bubble ideas for the regular season back in April, one of the main arguments against it was players didn’t want to be away from their families for even longer, for over two months. But a week is essentially a road trip, which often temporarily separates players from their families. It’s the cost of doing business.
The postseason is baseball Christmas, and like Ellen Griswold says, “I don’t know what to say except that it’s Christmas, and we’re all in misery.”