Chicago Reportedly Being Considered as Hub with MLB Discussing Possibility of Playoff ‘Bubble’
Early discussions about how to best conduct the MLB season included isolating teams to anywhere from one to three hubs, ostensibly to limit exposure by keeping teams close together and eliminating most or all travel. There was also talk of hosting at least the World Series at a neutral location, either in Los Angeles to make up for the loss of the All-Star Game or at a domed stadium.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Monday night that the league is again engaged in preliminary conversations about the viability of a “bubble” or hub format for the postseason. I guess that would make it a hubble, though you don’t need a powerful telescope to see how precarious a situation the league is facing. The Marlins missed over a week after playing their opening series in Philadelphia and the Cardinals will have missed a minimum of two weeks by the time they’re finally cleared to resume activities.
That’s bad enough at the start of the season, but such an outbreak would completely derail the entire postseason if it happens in October.
Because it would be exceedingly difficult for MLB to operate in the same manner as the NBA, which has all its teams concentrated in Orlando, Passan said the early thought is that three hubs would be required for the opening-round games. That would shrink to two hubs for the divisional round and then two just one or two ballparks for the LCS games and World Series.
Chicago is under consideration as a hub, according to Passan’s sources, which makes sense because it has two MLB teams and could utilize minor league or independent facilities in the greater metro area. While it’s not exactly the Red Line Series anyone could have imagined prior to 2020, the possibility of having Chicago at the literal center of the baseball world would be pretty cool.
New York is another location that makes a lot of sense, along with Southern California. While Passan’s sources said no favorite has emerged, it’s pretty obvious here that SoCal would be the most logical destination due to climate alone. The threat of inclement weather in Chicago and New York might be too much to overcome, particularly when you’re talking about hosting every game in either location.
Even if perfect weather was guaranteed, the expanded playoff format means potentially having to play eight games a day across three sites. That could mean three games apiece at Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium, with Petco Park housing the other two. Parking won’t be an issue, but shuffling six different teams in and out over the course of a day — including sanitizing clubhouses and dugouts between games — will be a chore.
Still, that chore is much less daunting than the idea of trying to proceed sans a team or three should another outbreak occur at any point after September 27. It’s all very preliminary right now, of course, but it seems like some form of “hubble” is the best way to conduct the postseason.
Ed. note: If you like the aerial view of Wrigley in the featured image, you can browse and purchase prints at Aerial Photos of Chicago.