MLB to stage postseason at neutral ‘bubble’ sites
North America’s Major League Baseball has announced plans to stage its 2020 postseason in California and Texas after getting approval from the MLB Players Association, the players’ union, to set up bio-secure hubs.
The MLB will hold the final three rounds of the playoffs – the League Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series – in California and Texas, with players housed nearby to set up ‘bubbles’ for each series.
The MLB and players’ union agreed to an extended playoff format in neutral venues after it already shortened its regular season to 60 games, with clubs only playing games against opponents from the same division.
Under an expanded playoff format, the Wild Card Series will feature eight best-of-three series with teams seeded one through eight in each league. The series will be hosted by the team with the better seeding, with the winning team advancing to the bubble stage.
The postseason will this year feature 16 teams, up from the usual 10, with the top two teams in each division qualifying, along with two teams with the next best records in each league.
After the Wild Card Series, starting with the League Division Series, postseason games will move to neutral site locations for the duration of the 2020 postseason to reduce the exposure of players and staff to coronavirus infections.
The four remaining American League teams will be bubbled in California for their Division Series (5 to 10 October) and Championship Series (11 to 18 October), while the four National League teams will be bubbled in Texas for their equivalent National League Division and Championship Series, played at the same time.
Games in California will be played at Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, while games in Texas will be staged at Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Arlington’s Globe Life Field.
The World Series, which begins on 20 October, will be held solely in Arlington.
ESPN will air eight Wild Card Series games in the US, while the remaining game will be broadcast by US cable network TBS.
TBS will also air the American League Division Series and American League Championship Series this season, while Fox will show the NLDS and NLCS on its sports channel FS1.
The World Series will also be broadcast by Fox.