Major League Baseball and the Players Association are well aware of how important it is to safely, quickly, and efficiently make their way through the 2020 postseason. A COVID-19 outbreak of any kind could have significant health, financial, and scheduling ramifications (there’s ~$800M of TV money and a $50M players playoff pool to consider), to say nothing of what might happen to the integrity of the postseason.
So with that in mind, they’ve toyed around with a postseason bubble to ensure the greatest overall medical security. Today, according to reports, they’ve inched closer to an agreement, but with a little twist we weren’t sure would happen.
Per USA Today, assuming this plan happens, the NLDS and NLCS will play all their games in Texas at Globe Life Field (Rangers) and Minute Maid Park (Astros), while the ALDS and ALCS will play all their games in California at Dodger Stadium (Dodgers) and Petco Park (Padres). It’s a nice touch putting the AL teams in the NL parks and vice versa, and giving the World Series to the new ballpark, Globe Life Field.
NLDS, NLCS: Globe Life Field, Minute Maid Park
ALDS, ALCS: Dodger Stadium, Petco Park
World Series: Globe Life Field
This setup has been rumored before.
There are some additional notes around safety, including rules for when and how long families can connect, and even some teams already pushing back against the protocols (the Dodgers), but the biggest news of the day is that the first three-game series of the playoffs – the additional round, unique to this year – is going to be played entirely at the home park of the higher seed.
That means winning your division now matters much more than if the whole thing had been in a bubble.
In case you forgot, eight teams from each league are making the playoffs this year. That includes the three winners of each division, the three second placed teams in each division, plus two wild card teams. So if you win your division, you will get the benefit of TRUE home field advantage for all three games of the first round.
National League Playoff Status (as of today):
Seed 1: Los Angeles Dodgers
Seed 2: Atlanta Braves
Seed 3: Chicago Cubs
Seed 4: San Diego Padres
Seed 5: Philadelphia Phillies
Seed 6: St. Louis Cardinals
Seed 7: San Francisco Giants
Seed 8: Miami Marlins
As of today, the Cubs would host the Cardinals at Wrigley Field with home field advantage for all three games. If those two teams flipped in the standings, they’d play all three in St. Louis. If the Cubs dropped into a wild card slot, they’d be stuck traveling to Atlanta or Los Angeles to face the Braves or Dodgers in a terrifying first round.
So let’s hope the Cubs can hang onto their 2.5 game lead over the Cardinals (and the other NL Central clubs) down the stretch and ensure a softer matchup against an easier team with the all-important home field advantage. You know Kyle Hendricks wants it.