While there is a sense of optimism that baseball could return for an abbreviated 2020 season, a new divisional alignment proposal could pique the interest of Chicago Cubs and White Sox fans.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, one of the scenarios being discussed by the league would be to temporarily realign the sport into three regional divisions, minimizing travel and allowing teams to play games in their home stadiums.
Under the proposal, the Cubs and White Sox would be grouped together in a newly-configured “Central Division,” which would mostly consist of teams from the Midwest.
The division would include:
Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals
Under the proposal, teams would play between 80 and 100 games, but would likely first report to their spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona to get geared up for the season.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has expressed optimism that baseball could be played in the city this summer, said Wednesday that the realignment idea seems feasible, but would need to be thoroughly vetted for safety purposes.
“There is a desire to get the teams back on the field, but recognizing that doing it in a current environment that we’re in carries risk, and so we’ll be having continued discussions with them about a way to do this safely to minimize on travel,” she said. “Giving people an opportunity to see baseball in Chicago, I think that’s a good thing, but we have got to do it in a way that’s safe, not only for the fans, but think about all the employees that are going to be needed. Even if we don’t have vendors and concessions, there’s still a lot of employees that are going to be there in the ballparks.”
Lightfoot has previously said she believes that teams will start out their seasons without fans in the stands, but it would depend on the number of coronavirus tests being performed, and whether there are treatments for the virus.