Baseball’s Playoff Bubble Has Some Holes To Plug Before Working
Putting teams and sports in bubbles is all the rage this summer into fall. NBA and NHL showed how a bubble can be successful and ensure that you’re having a full playoffs. MLB might be looking in that direction for the playoffs. Per reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN, MLB has begun to put the wheels in motion for a playoff bubble. It is an interesting idea in theory, but there are few things that would need to happen for this to be achieved by baseball. Bubbles work, but there are steps that are needed before they can be efficient.
Since the Cardinals outbreak, there haven’t been many cases of COVID-19 across baseball. The league reported seven between players and staff across baseball in a very low positive rate. That served as a wake-up call, and if that didn’t, Zach Plesac and Mike Clevenger getting suspended for going out in Chicago definitely did. Baseball is fully aware of what they’re up against. But to make a bubble, there are certain things that need to happen first.
One thing that doesn’t get considered enough is players need time to quarantine in the said bubble. This affects baseball’s schedule. They would likely need to push back the start and give people time to quarantine. The other issue is how many locations would you need? NHL model is likely the one to follow with two hub cities. Los Angeles/California feels like the obvious choice for one bubble. And the other one is a great unknown. New York/Philly bubble makes sense, but the weather is pretty damn cold by October. The same goes for a Midwest bubble unless it is all being played in Milwaukee. Atlanta feels like a great choice based on a new stadium, good weather, and a big enough city to isolate these players.
The other aspect of this is will the players sign off? Remember baseball wanted a bubble in Arizona and Florida, and players refused to let it happen for mostly familial reasons. This is a little different, but problems of not having your normal routine persist for these players. Although, this is after seeing the success of the NBA and NHL and maybe that changes their mind. Athletes talk and I’m sure they know what to push for and push against if heading into a bubble.
Regardless of what happens with this bubble, it is a good move by the league to think through this effort. We’ll see if things are different than what they were May.