MLB to hold World Series, Postseason in ‘Bubble’
NEW YORK — The World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington, Texas, as part of a bubble agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the first time the sport’s championship will be played entirely at one site since 1944.
As part of an agreement finalized Tuesday, the division series, league championship series and World Series will be part of a bubble designed to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, which limited the regular season to a 60-game schedule for each club. The best-of-three first round of the postseason — expanded from 10 to 16 teams this year — will be at the homes of the top-seeded teams. The World Series will be at Globe Life Park in Arlington, a retractable roof stadium with artificial turf that opened this year adjacent to the Rangers’ old ballpark. The American League Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League at Globe Life Park. The AL Division Series will be at San Diego and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. Texas is last in the AL West at 17-30 entering Tuesday, with little chance of advancing to the postseason.
“In the view of our infectious disease experts, the biggest risk of exposure for players and staff is contact with family members and friends who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their communities,” deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a memo sent to teams Monday night. “Nearly all of the positive test results that have been reported for players and staff in the last month can be traced back to contact with an infected family member, domestic partner, or friend outside of club facilities.”
Halem said MLB and the players’ association were in the process of finalizing details of the agreement, which provides for players to be tested daily during the postseason. While the NFL plays the Super Bowl at a neutral site selected in advance, baseball has resisted the idea, which has been long advocated by prominent agent Scott Boras. The World Series was last played at one site in 1944 at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Browns, 4 games to 2. New York’s Polo Grounds hosted all the games in 1921 and 1922, the last two seasons it was the home of both the New York Giants and Yankees. The Giants won both titles.
AL teams in mathematical contention are to start a transition period on Sept. 22 and NL teams the following day. Up to 28 active roster players, 12 taxi-squad players and 50 additional personnel ranging from bullpen catchers to front-office staff must remain at the team’s transitional hotel or travel with the team on the road.
Under an exception wanted by the players’ association, any player who either lives by himself, lives with a spouse or domestic partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs documented by a physician, or is living with children may quarantine at home during the transition period, with a provision that MLB will not approve a large number of requests to quarantine at home. Only spouses, domestic partners, children and child care providers can stay with players during the transition period, and people other than players may not bring family to the transition hotel or on the road. Family members will not be allowed into the bubble hotels at the four sites unless they complete a supervised seven-day quarantine.
A player also may have up to six family members and guests stay at separate family hotels at the four sites. MLB said it will use best efforts to arrange visits in supervised, outdoor places.