MLB chooses Texas as neutral World Series site

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Whether the Houston Astros get back to the World Series this year remains to be seen in this injury-riddled, coronavirus-abbreviated season.

But if they do, they may not have to leave the state of Texas to play for the Commissioner's Trophy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Major League Baseball to turn to "bubble" sites as part of its 16-team postseason, which is a one-time expansion from their typical 10-team field. This plan was finalized between MLB and the players' association Tuesday.

The video above is from the start of the 2020 MLB regular season, which chronicles the safety guidelines in place amid the pandemic.

Globe Life Park, the brand new home ballpark of the Astros' in-state rivals, the Texas Rangers, will host the World Series beginning Oct. 20.

In fact, the Arlington, Texas, venue and the Astros' own Minute Maid Park have been tapped as "bubble" sites for the National League Division Series, which will comprise of the four NL teams that advance from the Wild Card round.

If the Astros, who can qualify for the postseason by finishing first or second in their division or clinching one of the two best remaining records, can get past their AL Wild Card round, they would advance to play in the Division Series round, which is set to take place at bubble sites at Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The best-of-three Wild Card round sites will be at the homes of the top-seeded teams.

Globe Life will also host the NL Championship Series, while Petco Park will host the AL Championship Series.

As of Tuesday's announcement, Houston is second in the AL West, a game and a half up from the Seattle Mariners, with 13 games left in the 60-game season.

This year, the bubble system in the postseason complements a regular season scheduling that imposed each team to take on members of their own division and the corresponding regional division in the opposite league, thereby cutting down on the distance a team would have to travel for road games.

"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 last 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.

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 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. 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.