Among the major sports leagues that are currently shut down due to coronavirus, MLB might be the one that has had the most rumors and speculation regarding a restart. We’ve heard plenty of reports about what the league might do in order to start playing meaningful games by late June/early July — including the “Arizona Plan” and the three hubs plan — so it’s been pretty challenging to stay up to speed on where everything stands. If you’re a little lost, feel free to check out this comprehensive timeline of how MLB has been effected by COVID-19 and get caught up to speed.
But, if nothing else, here’s what you gotta know this morning: MLB is reportedly getting ready to submit an official plan for returning to play this week. That proposal, which may get sent to the MLBPA for review as early as Tuesday, will reportedly suggest a regular season that starts in July and has around 80 games before an expanded postseason.
It’s a major step towards the potential return of Major League Baseball in the coming months but there are still some key issues that need to be addressed before we get ahead of ourselves and start looking forward to games. Our baseball guy R.J. Anderson has highlighted four of those major items:
  • Testing, testing, testing: Player and personnel safety is paramount, which means that mass COVID-19 testing would need to be readily available before the league can pick things back up. MLB would need to be able to test the players, coaches, front office executives, and any essential personnel regularly, which would likely require tens of thousands of tests per month
  • Improved hygiene standards: When you think of baseball, hygiene probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. That’s why the KBO, which returned to action last week, has banned spitting and barehanded high-fives in order to limit the spread of germs. Players are also required to have their temperatures taken twice daily. MLB may need to enforce similar guidelines, as unnatural as they may feel on the diamond
  • Contingency plans: Speaking of the KBO… the Korean league has a contingency plan that says any player who tests positive for COVID-19 will have to be quarantined while the league is shut down for three weeks. MLB will likely have to have some sort of contingency plan in place as well
  • Logistics: What will the schedule look like? How frequently are we going to see double-headers? How much traveling will be involved? Where will postseason games be held in the winter? How can the league make this comeback as safe as possible? Those are all questions that need to be answered before we get the ball rolling
Folks around baseball seem to be pretty confident that a season is still going to happen, and that’s encouraging, but a lot of league execs are going to need to come up with some rule changes to ensure the operation runs safely and smoothly. I’m fortunate enough to have former Marlins president David Samson as my colleague, and he was kind enough to lay out his own proposal for MLB’s return , including several adjustments to the game as we typically know it. Among those tweaks:
  • All games will include a designated hitter
  • No mound visits during the game, and pitching changes would be done from the dugout
  • No visitors, media members or any other people allowed in the clubhouse
  • No first- and third-base coaches on the field
  • No instant replay or broadcasters at the ballpark. All TV/radio broadcasters can call games remotely
Samson also lays out a plan for the regular season schedule (81 games between August 1 and Halloween) as well as an expanded postseason during the month of November. How feasible is that? Well, he’s a lot more qualified than I am, so I’ll just point you in the direction of his full proposal and you can decide for yourself.
My guess is we’ll be hearing quite a lot about this whole process and the discussions being had in the coming days, but this could be a huge couple of weeks for baseball.

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