Let's Get Serious: MLB Games Should be Played in MLB Ballparks
There is every indication that Major League Baseball is just around the corner.
The question is which corner and where.
Concede the fact the games will be played in stadiums without fans, but don't accept the claim that this will be a part of America healing from the pain of coronavirus. Let's be serious, a fan having to sit at home, watching on television, as his team is playing in an empty ballpark, is not going to create a feel-good moment, not when the fan knows he can't be there and enjoy the moment in person.
Now, that doesn't mean the games shouldn't be played. At some point -- speculation has been June or July -- a regular-season will begin. And the sooner clearance is given to start playing, the better for everybody involved. It, hopefully, will mean that at some point in the not-too-distance future teams will return to a sense of normalcy, playing home games in their own ballparks.
Not, initially, however,
There is going to be a grouping of clubs in one or multiple sites, limiting travel in an effort to limit exposure to any aftereffects of cronavirus.
The talk has centered around using spring training facilities.
There has been talk of each team playing in its own Florida or Arizona home with the leagues being adjusted, for one year, based on whether the team is in Florida or Arizona.
Part of the excitement of baseball is the long-established intra-division rivals, not a fan needing a program to figure out who's who on the field.
And there has been talk of all 30 teams gathering in Arizona and having multiple games played each day at the various stadiums in the Phoenix area, but again the speculation is the divisions would be redrawn based the local of the parks they play in.
And there are a slew of arguments against such plans, not the least of which is the weather in Florida and Arizona in June, July, and heaven forbid it would be needed, August.
It's 99 degrees on a cool day. And the temperature doesn't starting dropping until 8 p.m., or later, after the sun has set. What's more there are rainstorms and dust storms to contend with.
There is a reason that Arizona, Tampa Bay and Miami all call domed stadiums home.
And remember, Arizona doesn't go on daylight savings time, so East Coast teams would be looking at 4 p.m., Arizona time first pitches to provide fans with a chance to be awake when the games are played -- a key factor for television, which, after all, is he key reason for the games in seclusion.
And not all of the ballparks have Major League caliber lighting.
No, with the thought that within a month or so after games start, the clearance should follow that baseball can return to normalcy, and maintain its current divisional setup.
Establish six ballparks as the home bases -- Miami, Tampa, Houston, Arlington, Phoenix and either Seattle or Milwaukee. A key would be that no team would play in what is its regular season home park, eliminating any concern about a team having a home-field advantage.
Under this plan, the season would start with a 24-day divisional showdown. Yes, there are five teams in each division so the plan would be that every other day there would be a doubleheader, which would require one of the five teams to play two games that day.
However, there would be only two games the next day, which means the team that played the two games would have the next game off. The end result? At the end of 24 days each team would have played two three-game series against the four other teams in the division.
If the teams received clearance after that to return home, they would still have at least a home-and-home series against each division rival so their home fans could see the divisional showdown.
If there were still concerns at that point, and teams would continue to play in private, the divisional teams would play the teams from the same division in the other league. Now, the idea of five games in a day in the same stadium wouldn't fit.
The solution? Simple. Three teams from the NL Division and three from the AL Division would play in one park, while the two remaining teams from each of the divisions would play in another ballpark.
Here's the catch -- to ensure that both stadiums would host games for 16 days, the two-team divisional matchups would play their three-game home/three-game road series against each other, and then would have a four-game matchup -- two home games and two road games -- against their intra-division rival, which would be the last four games play in that stretch of 16 days.
A perfect solution to an imperfect situation? No, but . . .
It will provide hope that the home fans would still get to see all the league opponents for at least one series, and be treated to the wild-card matchups.
And it will provide teams with a legitimate big-league ballpark in which to play.