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Rick Zamperin: 2020 MLB season may start this summer with new divisions

A giant Canadian flag is displayed during the national anthem at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
A giant Canadian flag is displayed during the national anthem at Rogers Centre in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Major League Baseball has become the latest North American professional sports league to spitball a number of options in finding the best way to launch their 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLB officials are reportedly hoping to start the season no later than July 2 and hope to stage a 100-game campaign, likely without any fans in attendance.

First reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, one option would be to realign the 30 teams into three divisions based on geography and teams would only play against division rivals to cut down on travel.

READ MORE: Rick Zamperin: Ontario may have its reopening road map, but sports remain in the dark

Another option would allow teams to play in their home ballparks if they are given the green light by medical experts.

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The playoffs could be expanded to include more than the current 10-team format, which would mean the post-season could extend into December by using domed stadiums in warm weather cities.

If the three-division format goes ahead, and everything is still a big if at this point, the battle for top spot in each one would be very interesting.

Bo Bichette representing Blue Jays in MLB The Show Players Tournament
Bo Bichette representing Blue Jays in MLB The Show Players Tournament

East Division: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals

Central Division: Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals

West Division: Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners

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How many teams would make the playoffs?

My best guess is the top four clubs in each division (12 in total) would make the post-season and when all three division winners are determined, maybe the team with the best record would get a bye into the World Series or all three play each other and the two winners advance to the final?

Perhaps it’s a 12-team bracket that throws geography out the window?

To be honest, I’m not sure what the best answer is and I get the feeling MLB officials are probably thinking the same thing.

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