On Tuesday, the proposals started: all 30 teams in an Arizona bubble. On Friday, they furthered: each team playing at their respective spring training sites in realigned divisions.
While these potential solutions to the COVID-19 postponements are exciting and leave traces of optimism, many have touted them as premature and unrealistic. It still gives us a perspective into some creative solutions that MLB may implore.
This one in particular would feature the Rockies’ first venture outside the National League West:
The Proposed Cactus League Northeast:
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Chicago Cubs
- Colorado Rockies
- Oakland Athletics
- San Francisco Giants
A high-ranking MLB official “spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal is one of several being discussed,” suggesting we’re still a ways away from an actual plan of action. We can be curious for why this official chose to remain anonymous in disclosing this proposal—is this ‘leaked’ material, or is he just stepping aside so commissioner Rob Manfred will be the one addressing it?
The Cactus and Grapefruit League plan does appear to be a more ‘fair’ proposal for Grapefruit League teams. All teams could house themselves in the comforts of their own spring venues, instead of the Rockies having to mix in a few weight room sets with the Pirates or something. Games could be played on both sides of the country, meaning more desirable start times for fans on the east coast.
The divisional realignment would also mean the Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn’t be standing in the way of the Rockies.
The Oakland Athletics earned an American League postseason berth in 2019, and with 97 wins they boasted the fourth best record in the AL. If 2019 wins and losses were sorted for the modified Cactus League division, Oakland would have won by 12 games over second-place Arizona, followed by the Cubs (13 games), Giants (20) and Rockies (26).
There would be a lot of ‘divisional interleague’ matchups for the Athletics in the Cactus League Northeast; would a plan like this mean every team uses a designated hitter?
The five teams would play at four ‘home’ stadiums: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (COL/ARI), Scottsdale Stadium (SF), Sloan Park (CHC), and Hohokam Stadium (OAK). Of those four, Salt River Fields and Hohokam Stadium are the farthest apart—a whole 13 miles. Chase Field would be an option as a fifth park, but with 15 teams in Phoenix instead of 30, it wouldn’t be as big of a necessity.
Scheduling would be an interesting setup, too. MLB could elect to play three-game series like a standard regular season, but given the proximity of each team, they could schedule it like spring training where a team rarely plays the same opponent in consecutive games.
Despite a valuation in the bottom third of MLB, the Rockies made a $75 million increase in team value over a single year (thanks in part to a new TV deal). Their 4 percent increase this past year is tied for 11th highest among big league franchises.
Todd Helton’s 17 and Larry Walker’s impending 33 are the Rockies’ first two retired numbers. Thomas Harding identifies two numbers that could be next: Nolan Arenado’s 28 and Don Baylor’s 25.
Walker’s jersey retirement was first scheduled for April 19; we’ll have to wait a little for the second retired number in Rockies history to be made official.
David Dahl will be holding the controller for the Colorado Rockies in the MLB The Show player tournament—right next to his golden retriever.