With MLB delayed due to the national Coronavirus/COVID-19 emergency, those around the game have struggled to determine how best to proceed with the 2020 season if and when baseball resumes. Should there be a shortened season? Should there be more doubleheaders to increase the number of games that can be played in a limited time? Should the end of the season be pushed later into the calendar?
Scott Boras is a fan of the last option, suggesting that MLB should extend the season and have the World Series played at Christmas, at a neutral site. Derrick Goold notes that a neutral site World Series has been a Boras hobby horse for years, and a situation where the season would be extended well into the winter would pretty much necessitate moving the World Series to a neutral location where there would be a roofed stadium available.
With the best case scenario being that baseball resumes in June, and a more likely scenario being that MLB won’t be ready to start until July, the only way to get close to 162 games would likely be a combination of playing some doubleheaders and extending the season into the winter. You could probably play games through October at team’s regular stadiums, but by November, teams would probably need to play games either in warm weather stadiums, stadiums with roofs, or at spring training facilities.
There are currently seven stadiums with retractable roofs — Chase Field in Phoenix, Globe Life Field in Arlington, Marlins Park in Miami, Miller Park in Milwaukee, Minute Maid Park in Houston, Rogers Centre in Toronto, and T-Mobile Park in Seattle, and there’s also Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, which is a dome. Having the playoffs or the World Series in one of those stadiums as a neutral site in December where cold weather won’t be a factor would seem to be viable.
This is one of those instances where Boras (and other agents) are aligned with ownership in wanting as many games to be played as possible — aside from the fact players want to play, everyone knows that fewer games means less revenue, and less revenue is going to impact player salaries, both this year and going forward.
If there is a season, I would expect that we will see some changes in roster rules to accommodate the unusual circumstances, including expanding the 26 and the 40 man rosters to allow for more pitchers, given the likelihood of an abbreviated “spring” training before the season starts and an increase in doubleheaders as the league tries to maximize the number of games that can be played.