When Major League Baseball players and owners got together late last month to roughly hash out the future in a baseball landscape made unknowable by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, one of the possibilities thrown out there was the possibility of postseason games being played at neutral sites.
With the desire to play as many games as possible in a delayed season, the postseason could be pushed into late October or November. And according to the needs at the time, some of those games could be played at neutral sites.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, stadiums with roofs would be at the top of the list, as would warm-weather cities. To try to play games in the Northeast and upper Midwest would border on the absurd in areas where rain and falling temperatures define October and November.
There are six MLB teams playing games in parks with retractable roofs -- Chase Field (Phoenix), Globe Life Field (Arlington, Texas), Marlins Park (Miami), Miller Park (Milwaukee), Minute Maid Park (Houston), Rogers Centre (Toronto) and T-Mobile Park (Seattle) – and one fixed dome, Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Those are obvious. Less clear-cut are the stadiums that would be designated warm-weather cities. San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles are at the top of the list. But I’d think you’d have to throw the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park in San Francisco into the mix.
Yeah, “warm weather” and the Bay Area don’t generally mix, but stats don’t lie, or at least don’t lie much. The average daily temperature highs in October/November in Oakland are 72/65 and in San Francisco are 70/64. Both get on average two days of rain in October, which jumps to six in November.
Atlanta would be a warm-weather consideration, too, with October/November average temperatures of 74 and 64, but that area averages three times as many rainy days in October as does either of the Bay Area teams. And in a season pushed to the brink of November by delay, rainouts would be a serious downside.
If you were going to use the Bay Area cities in the mix, you’d probably want to mostly have day games, because the overnight temperatures of 55 degrees in both places in October drops by four or five degrees in November. It likely wouldn’t be that chilly at first pitch, but by 10 p.m. or so, that stadium jacket might come in handy.
The more options there are, the better. Let’s say the four American League playoff teams are the Yankees, the Twins, the A’s and the Astros and the National League would be the Nationals, the Braves, the Cardinals and the Dodgers.
Two of our hypothetical AL playoff teams – New York and Minnesota – are in roof-less cold weather cities. In the NL, Washington Atlanta, Los Angeles and St. Louis are all in non-roof parks, although Atlanta and Los Angeles would qualify as warm-weather cities.
If, say, the Dodgers and the Braves were to play each other, then you wouldn’t need a neutral site. But if it were to be a Braves-Cardinals matchup, then you’d probably want two neutral sites, one relatively near each team, because having one team playing at home and the other not would be almost the very definition of home-field advantage.
No matter how it was to work out, there would be complaints. But the complaints would be worth it if at least there were baseball playoffs.
Right now, we don’t know that we will have those. We can only hope.
Do you think post-season baseball could use the Bay Area stadiums as neutral sites in a much-delayed 2020 postseason? Please leave your opinion in the comments below.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3