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We’ve seen in the NBA and NHL where positive tests essentially no longer occur that operating in a bubble is the surest and safest way to pull off sports right now. Yeah, MLB is still moving, but they’ve had the Marlins and Cardinals endure week-plus layoffs, affecting the schedules of other teams in their paths, and the idea remains that all teams’ seasons could be in peril with an outbreak.
Jeff Passan spoke about the necessity of a playoff bubble earlier this week:
Baseball needs a postseason bubble. pic.twitter.com/weDfCE9lQd
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 11, 2020
“You need sanctity in October,” Passan said. “You cannot have a Marlins-type situation. You cannot have a Cardinals-type situation.”
Passan notes that you can make up dates in the regular season but you can’t do that in the playoffs. It’d be completely untenable, for example, for MLB to tell the Yankees their season was over if there were an outbreak. He said the league was having “preliminary discussions” about where the bubble or bubbles could be — Chicago? Los Angeles? Etc.
It isn’t totally up to MLB, though. Players fought early and vigorously about the idea of a regular season bubble to the point where it was never a serious idea. At The Athletic, Jayson Stark quotes Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi as thinking players would be more amenable to it for a shorter period of time. They should be.
MLB and the players need to work together to figure out a way to get this done, or they run the risk of their postseason — and about a billion dollars in TV money — being vulnerable.