Major League Baseball has already experienced two COVID-19 outbreaks just a few weeks into the 2020 MLB season. After seeing the success the NBA and NHL have had with a bubble, MLB could now look to follow the formula for the postseason and World Series.
The NBA and NHL have been rewarded for using a quarantine bubble with no positive COVID-19 tests in the past two weeks. As MLB begins making plans for October, it is reportedly considering creating its own version of bubble ball.
While discussions are ongoing, per the Los Angeles Times‘ Bill Shaikin, MLB officials are now considering moving the playoffs and World Series into a bubble when October arrives.
Many have expected there would be a second wave of the coronavirus this fall when flu season arrives and temperatures drop. While MLB has adapted its COVID-19 protocols to increase player safety, it only came after the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins both had COVID-19 outbreaks.
MLB made slight adjustments after the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak with how quickly they suspended games and quarantined teams. Following the Cardinals’ outbreak, a team that hasn’t played since July 29, the league made stricter safety and behavioral protocols for players.
However, it’s become evident that allowing teams to move around the country freely and interact with the general public puts them at far greater risk for contracting the coronavirus.
The problem would be even worse if a team experienced an outbreak during the postseason. MLB might need to suspend play for at least a week, based off precedent, causing delays owners don’t want.
Shaikin’s reporting makes it clear MLB is only at the early stages of discussions, with no clear picture on what neutral site would be selected, how teams would be quarantined and how often players would be tested.
However, if the NBA and NHL continue to report zero positive tests and their postseasons aren’t interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB might have to follow the plan. Given everything that is at stake for the league, a bubble might be the only way to end the 2020 season with an unquestioned World Series champion.