New York Yankees: 3 League format gaining strength, and baseball coming soon

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

New York Yankees fans are starved for baseball in any format that will allow games to start.  All across the country, the “boys of summer” are dearly missed.  With the coronavirus beginning to subside in many areas of the country, a starting date for games although still unclear, is drawing closer.  Many sources see a return to spring training happening in the next two weeks, and the start of the regular season in late June but at or before the July 4th holiday.

Although MLB has floated at least a dozen ideas on how to play a season and get in as many games as possible, while at the same time keeping players and fans alike safe, the newest plan seems to be gaining acceptance.  The plan calls for 3 Leagues representing geographic regions. This is not the first realignment plan, but this one clearly makes more sense and will severely cut down on air travel.  It calls for an Eastern, Central, and Western League.  The final plan may call them divisions or league, that remains to be seen.  Here is a lineup of the new divisions as provided on Twitter by USA Today Sports.

For this article, I’ll hone in on how it affects the New York Yankees.  The re-alignment would pit the Yankees against traditional teams in the AL East, including the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles, and the Tampa Bay Rays.  With the new plan, the Yankee will also face the National League teams in the geographic region.  With the traditional National League and American League gone for the 2020 shortened season.  Interleague games will be gone, and the Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, and last but not least, New York Mets would be included in the newly formed Eastern League.

The plan doesn’t present a lot of change for the New York Yankees as they will still play against the same rivals in the AL East.  They will not play against the weak Detroit Tigers this year, but that potential loss will be made up by the addition of playing the equally weak Florida Marlins. The Yankees will be playing against the teams in the East for about ten games during the season that hopefully will see 100 games televised in the shortened regular season.  The games, at least at the start, will most likely be played with no fans in the stands.

It is unclear at the moment if the resumption of spring training will happen in home parks or the traditional spring training locations.  If for the Yankees they do start at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Florida Phase 2 will go into effect tomorrow, which will allow a reduced number of fans able to view the games from the ballpark stands.  It is not likely that New York officials will allow in-stand fans before August.

One exciting aspect of the plan is that the sometimes rival New York Mets will become full-time rivals featuring many subway series during the season.  These games surely will draw huge crowds to capacity once it is allowed.  Even if fans aren’t allowed until later in the season, television revenues will go a long way to help support both teams that have already lost vast sums of money.

For the fans, most will just be happy to be able to watch our summer pastime.  They will enjoy playing the teams we always play and, at the same time, widen their baseball knowledge but getting to know new teams and players.  For the Yankees, they will get to play Derek Jeter’s Marlins, where they will see Jorge Posada, who is a special advisor to the Marlins.  While playing in Philadelphia, the Yankees will be reunited with former New York Manager Joe Girardi, who was hired to manage the Phillies this offseason.  Didi Gregorius is also now with the Phillies.

With in the next week or so, MLB will have to decide on a final plan to have a 2020 baseball season that will be like no other.  If the 3 division plan introduced, it will see an expanded playoff season that might reach into November. If the season goes late enough, we may see a World Series played in a neutral site in a warming climate.  Whatever happens, fans will be filled with joy as things get back to a new normal, and baseball can again be played in balls parks around the country.

The Yankees will be less concerned with the details of any of the plans to get baseball started.  They will be looking to put forth the best team they can field that will get them to their 28th World Championship.