Braves: MLB’s newest plan for baseball has the Braves remaining in Florida

Braves: Ten over/under predictions for 2020

For those of you still skeptical of MLB’s plan from earlier this week that features a 2020 season in empty Arizona stadiums, don’t worry… there’s another proposal in the works, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.

According to Nightengale’s write-up on Friday morning, a high ranking MLB official relayed to USA TODAY Sports that the league’s most-recent idea includes eliminating the traditional American and National Leagues, as well as a complete realignment of all six divisions. 

In this plan for the 2020 regular season, all teams would return to their respective Spring Training sites across Arizona and Florida, with divisions forming based solely on geography. Here’s how the six divisions would be laid out, using the already existing Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues (from Nightengale’s article):



NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates.

SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles.

EAST: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins.



NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics.

WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels.

NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.


As mentioned in the article, the convenience of all Cactus League teams being within an hour drive of each other makes for a rather solid plan; however, in Florida, Grapefruit League teams are much more spread out, which ultimately makes things a bit more complicated regarding containment or even potential quarantine for all personnel.

Although, by combining Arizona AND Florida, the league would undoubtedly benefit from a much larger availability in terms of places to play baseball, given there are a reported 26 different ballparks, including three MLB domed stadiums — Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Marlins Park in Miami, and Chase Field in Phoenix. 

The larger stadium pool makes this plan more realistic than the Arizona-only proposal. However, there are still evident roadblocks that exist, especially whether or not players would even be interested in such an idea.

The big plus, though, is that the ability to host numerous games simultaneously from two separate regions (and timezones) is a real advantage for the Arizona/Florida plan. With teams grouped geographically, fans on the East and West coast would still be able to watch their favorite teams at more standard times. From March to November, most of Arizona has the same time as the Pacific Time Zone, meaning a primetime Braves game in Phoenix would begin at 10:00 p.m. for most of Braves Country. With the Braves staying in Florida, start times would remain the same as they were during Spring Training, resulting in more Braves’ fans watching games.

This new proposal also makes the layout for a 2020 postseason much more reasonable, as Nightengale explains in his article:

“There could still be division winners and wild-card winners, perhaps adding two more wild-card teams to each league, or a postseason tournament with all 30 teams. The winner of the Cactus League in Arizona would play the winner of the Grapefruit League in Florida for the World Series championship, utilizing the domed stadiums in late November.”

 Of course, none of this is even close to a done deal. Despite models projecting a positive situation in the near future, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much out of control, and places like New York are experiencing daily highs in death rates, not to mention the reality that there are millions of U.S. citizens currently unemployed. The idea of pulling off something like starting up a major sports league, which consists of thousands of people, is still a bit of a far-fetched proposition at the moment. 

However, the hope is that at some point, the virus will have run its course, and the country can return to some form of normalcy. I’m not sure it’s doable right now, but either way, it’s going to take a colossal effort, plus an enormous amount of planning to pull off. Hopefully, with MLB seemingly determined as ever to succeed, the 2020 season won’t be a complete loss.

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