With loads of unexpected time on their hands and billons of dollars on the line, MLB hasn’t been shy about getting creative. And good, because for most of us the creative process requires churning through a bunch of bad ideas before tripping on a good one.
One new idea thrown out in the past few days has the league splitting itself back into two, but instead of our traditional A.L. and N.L., the split is down state geographic lines of each club’s spring training site. MLB is considering an idea, according to USA TODAY, to dramatically alter the division landscape for this one season.
The plan would land the Twins in the “Grapefruit League South” division, along with the Red Sox, Braves, Rays, and Orioles.
It’s interesting. We all know the necessary precursors to discussion by this point. No plan is a good plan if it’s not safe for the players, the support personnel, the fans and the community at large. TV contracts or no. (How is this plan any safer or better than the Arizona Quarantine Plan.)
A lot of things need to happen for the idea to be logistically feasible. As Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson said last week, “the virus will dictate” when it’s safe to return to playing baseball.
On paper, this hypothetical division looks tougher than the real one that the Twins had been preparing to play in. The Braves and Rays are both postseason-caliber clubs. The Red Sox will likely take a step back after trading Mookie Betts, missing out on Brusdar Graterol and losing Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) for whenever the season is played, but they still have the talent of a team that could win 90 games. The Orioles probably will be doormats again in 2020.
Run that against the ‘old’ A.L. Central, in which the Indians are formidable, the White Sox hope to get a lot better in a real hurry this year, and made some moves to see to it. The Royals and Tigers are doing what generous writers would call rebuilding. Look at it this way. The Twins in both scenarios play in a division with two teams with postseason aspirations; in the ‘new’ format, they would essentially trade out the 2020 Royals for the 2020 Red Sox.
It’s a little tougher sledding for the Twins, though there could be other teams who have it worse.
Another strange hypothetical floated in the piece published by USA TODAY: The possibility of a 30-team postseason tournament, in which the winner of Arizona and the winner of Florida would play each other in November inside a domed stadium for the World Series.