The good news for Tampa Bay Rays fans is that if they can hold on to their top spot in the AL East, they would be able to host all of the “best of three,” Wild Card games at Tropicana Field. Another big boost would be the chance that a limited number of fans would be able to attend the games, something MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes can happen.
*A quick note to those who missed it, the 2020 Wild Card will be expanded to a best of three series instead of the normal one game playoff. All of the games will be played in the park of the team with the highest seed.
If the Rays win the Wild Card series they would head west to either San Diego or Los Angeles. It also should be noted that the Miami Marlins are still in the National League Playoff race as they sit in the number 2 spot in the NL East so Sunshine State Baseball could be very exciting this final couple of weeks of the regular season.
Let me break this down for you as we start with the Wild Card round.
Up to 2020, there were six teams from each league made the playoffs each year. But the new postseason will now have eight teams from each league making the playoffs each division champion, plus the second-place team from each division and then two additional with the best record that did not finish in either first or second in their respective division.
The 2020 MLB Playoffs will be played in pods with San Diego and Los Angles hosting the American League while the National League will be playing in Texas. That means the Houston and the new Arlington home of the Rangers would host playoff games as well as the 2020 World Series.
The Wild Card round will feature eight best-of-three series: No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6, and No. 4 vs. No. 5. The higher seed will host all of the games in this round. The Wild Card round winners will then embark on what amounts to the traditional postseason.
Per the Los Angles Times in the AL, the higher seed would be the home team for a division series at San Diego’s Petco Park, with the other ALDS at Dodger Stadium. The AL Championship Series would be played in San Diego.
Over in the NL, the higher seed would be the home team for a division series in Arlington, with the other NLDS at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. The NLCS would be played in Arlington.
The World Series, in Arlington, would start on Tuesday, Oct. 20 it is the first time since 1944 that the World Series will not be played in the home parks of the two teams playing in the Fall Classic.
The POD plan was explained by the league in this statement provided to Sports Talk Florida from Major League Baseball.
“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.