Coronavirus in MLB: It’s Time to Reconsider the Bubble

The long-delayed 2020 MLB has already hit its first major roadblock. Now, it’s time for Major League Baseball to reconsider their strategy.

After just one weekend of play, the 2020 MLB season is already in serious jeopardy. The Miami Marlins experienced an outbreak of coronavirus as eight new players and two coaches tested positive for the virus Monday morning.

The team remained in Philadelphia following their weekend series against the Phillies, and have canceled their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles. In addition, the series opener between the Phillies and the Yankees has been canceled as well, according to Ken Rosenthal.

This has prompted Major League Baseball to hold an emergency meeting to discuss how they are going to respond to this unfortunate move, and possibly revise their plan to continue play.

This is an unfortunate series of events for baseball fans, who are fearful that the sport will be taken from them before they even had time to settle in. However, there is a far more pressing matter at hand: the health and safety of the players, coaches, and staff of all 30 teams.

While everyone wants baseball to continue, Major League Baseball must take immediate action to ensure that this outbreak is contained. This means that games could be canceled for the foreseeable future as the organization tries to reimagine their game plan.

If this is the case, there will undoubtedly be one topic that will be seriously discussed among MLB executives: creating a bubble. Both the NBA and NHL, who plan to return at the end of July, have implemented bubbles. So far, the bubbles have worked, as players and staff are subject to strict quarantine restrictions and routine testing. Time will tell the effectiveness of the bubble once play resumes, but it allows health officials to have a much more hands-on role.

Now, its MLB’s time to seriously reconsider creating bubble cities to protect their personnel. They can go a number of ways with implementing a bubble while still maintaining their current 60- game schedule.

One idea creating three hub locations; one for each region. Thus, the east, west, and central will all play in one area. If they were to test this idea, they could elect to choose the California Bay-Area as the location for the west, the Greater Chicago Area for the central, and New York/Philadephia Area for the east.

This would eliminate high-risk travel from highly infected areas like Los Angeles-to-Texas and Florida-to-New York. It would also allow for more frequent testing, and give the league better methods to contain outbreaks like the one ravaging the Marlins organization.

However, having three hub locations can become problematic in the postseason. If the season needs to be extended into November, it will be very hard to play in New York and Chicago due to cold weather and potential snowfall.

That leaves us with option two: create one large bubble in California. They could spread teams across the state’s five MLB stadiums in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego. This would be the best option in terms of containing the virus, however, the MLB is grossly unprepared to make the transition into one bubble. This would cause the league to postpone its season indefinitely as they plan the logistics. There is no telling how long this could take, and baseball fans might again be left starving for their sport after only having an appetizer.

One thing is for certain: Major League Baseball failed to plan for a situation like what is happening with the Marlins, and it is immediately backfiring. For the sake of baseball fans, let’s hope they get it right this time. However, for the sake of the health and safety of players, coaches and their families, they MUST get it right this time.