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MLB bubble plan for playoffs includes single-site World Series in Arlington

A general view of play between the Oakland

A general view of play between the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on September 11, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Credit: Getty Images/Ronald Martinez

The World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington, Texas, as part of a bubble agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the first time the sport’s championship will be played entirely at one site since 1944.

As part of an agreement finalized Tuesday, the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series will be part of a bubble designed to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, which decimated the regular season and limited it to a 60-game schedule for each club. The best-of-three first round of the postseason — expanded from 10 to 16 teams this year — will be at the top-seeded teams.

The World Series will be at Globe Life Field in Arlington, a retractable roof stadium with synthetic turf that opened this year adjacent to the Rangers’ old ballpark. The American League Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League at Globe Life Field.

The AL Division Series will be at San Diego and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

Off days were eliminated for the Division Series and League Championship Series, which will stress pitching and put emphasis on deeper rotations and bullpens. The two traditional off days were retained for the World Series.

Texas is last in the AL West at 17-30 entering Tuesday, with little chance of advancing to the postseason.

"In the view of our infectious disease experts, the biggest risk of exposure for players and staff is contact with family members and friends who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their communities," deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a memo sent to teams Monday night. "Nearly all of the positive test results that have been reported for players and staff in the last month can be traced back to contact with an infected family member, domestic partner, or friend outside of club facilities."

Halem said MLB and the players’ association were in the process of finalizing details of the agreement, which provides for players to be tested daily during the postseason.

"It’s going to be tough. Tough on the players, tough on the families," Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said. "It’s kind of like it’s been tough for everybody this year. We’re excited to have the opportunity to play in the postseason and we’ll just do the best we can with the protocols and what MLB decides to do moving forward."

While the NFL plays the Super Bowl at a neutral site selected in advance, baseball has resisted the idea, which has been long advocated by prominent agent Scott Boras.

The World Series was last played at one site in 1944 at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the St. Louis Browns 4 games to 2. New York’s Polo Grounds hosted all the games in 1921 and 1922, the last two seasons it was the home of both the New York Giants and Yankees. The Giants won both titles.

AL teams in mathematical contention are to start a transition period on Sept. 22 and NL teams the following day in which up to 28 active roster players, 12 taxi-squad players and 50 additional personnel ranging from bullpen catchers to front-office staff must remain at the team’s transitional hotel or travel with the team on the road.

Under an exception wanted by the players’ association, any player who either lives by himself, lives with a spouse or domestic partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs documented by a physician or is living with children may quarantine at home during the transition period, with a provision that MLB will not approve a large number of requests to quarantine at home.

Only spouses, domestic partners, children and child-care providers can stay with players during the transition period, and people other than players may not bring family to the transition hotel or on the road. Family members will not be allowed into the bubble hotels at the four sites unless they complete a supervised seven-day quarantine.

A player also may have up to six family members and guests stay at separate family hotels at the four sites. MLB said it will use best efforts to arrange visits in supervised, outdoor places.

"2020, you know? It’s not ideal," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I would love to be coming home from Buffalo next week and to my home with my family for a few days before heading out, but we understand we all have to make sacrifices and deal with different things that are going to make it viable for us to play this season and on into the postseason. So we know what we signed up for and we’ll cooperate as best we can."

POSTSEASON FORMAT AND SITES

WILD-CARD SERIES

Best-of-three

Division winner #1 hosts Wild card #2

Second-place #1 hosts Second place #2

Division winner #3 hosts Second place #3

Division winner #2 hosts Wild card #1

DIVISION SERIES

Best-of-five

NL

At Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas, and Minute Maid Park, Houston

AL

At Petco Park, San Diego, and Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Best-of-seven

NL

At Globe LIfe Field

AL

At Petco Park

WORLD SERIES

Best-of-seven

At Globe Life Field

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