MLB and the players association have agreed to neutral-site bubbles for the final three rounds of the upcoming expanded playoffs, and the league announced the plan Tuesday afternoon.
After three-game Wild Card Series matchups whittle the 16-team field to eight, the three ensuing rounds will take place in bubbles. The American League will play in Southern California — either San Diego’s Petco Park or Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, while the National League will be based in Texas — at Houston’s Minute Maid Park or the Rangers’ Globe Life Field.
The postseason will begin on Sept. 29, and the World Series is set to begin on Oct. 20. The World Series will take place entirely at Globe Life Field, which opened this year. Notably, there are no off days between games in the first three rounds of the postseason — a strategy-altering break with convention, as off days are usually included to accommodate travel.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the agreement on Tuesday morning. The neutral-site bubbles don’t cover the newly expanded wild-card round, which will have each league’s eight playoff teams face off in four seeded, three-game series. We don’t yet know how pre-bubble quarantines for players and their families will be set up, or how COVID-19 testing will work inside the bubble.
In fact, we don’t even know if it will truly be a “bubble,” like the NBA’s very successful (and very regulated) bubble in Orlando. Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Monday that he hopes that a limited number of fans can attend league championship series games and World Series games, which flies in the face of the entire bubble concept. If fans are attending games in any number, then it’s simply not a bubble.
MLB’s announcement provided specific dates and locations for each series based on seeding.
Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles will host the ALDS between the winners of the No. 2 seed-No. 7 seed matchup and the No. 3 seed-No. 6 seed matchup.
Petco Park in San Diego will host the ALDS between winners of the No. 1 seed-No. 8 seed matchup and the No. 4-No. 5 seed matchup. It will also host the ALCS.
Minute Maid Park in Houston will host the NLDS between the winners of the No. 2 seed-No. 7 seed matchup and the No. 3 seed-No. 6 seed matchup.
Globe Life Field in Arlington will host the NLDS between winners of the No. 1 seed-No. 8 seed matchup and the No. 4-No. 5 seed matchup. It will then host the NLCS and the World Series.
A World Series Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Oct. 28.
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