Gregor: If baseball does come back, here's what it might look like
There are two ways to look at major-league baseball returning for an abbreviated season.
On the one hand, it's not that important given the nation's serious problems dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the civil unrest caused by the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
On the other, the country needs the National Pastime now more than ever. It desperately needs some sense of normalcy.
Arguments can be made on either side, and either view is justified.
Through all of the ill health and massive protests and violence, baseball is still hoping to be back this summer.
Of course, owners and players need to agree on health and safety concerns. They have made promising progress on that front.
Reaching a financial agreement has been a much different animal. One industry source accurately described talks between owners and players with one word.
Assuming clearer heads eventually prevail, baseball is going to be back in a hurry.
Given the long layoff -- COVID-19 shut the game down on March 12 -- a second spring training is obviously needed.
We'll focus on the Cubs and White Sox in mapping out what baseball is expected to look like if it does return, starting with a second training camp.
Currently, the players are hoping to play well over 100 games in a shortened regular season, followed by an expanded 14-team playoffs. They want prorated pay based on the number of games played.
With no fans in the stands for an extended period, if at all, owners have offered revenue sharing and sliding salary cuts which would hit the highest-paid players the hardest. They reportedly are also mulling a regular season of just 50 games with prorated pay.
If a deal gets done, rosters are likely to increase to 30 players. Major-league teams would also have 20-man taxi squads.
The Cubs are expected to have spring training at Wrigley Field for their 30-man roster and they would need a second field for the 20 other players.
Northwestern University is close, so that would be a logical destination.
The Sox would have training camp at Guaranteed Rate Field and nearby University of Illinois-Chicago makes sense as a second site.
Ideally, pitchers would arrive a week earlier than position players, who would only need three weeks to get ready for a season.
There might be a handful of exhibition games, most likely involving the Cubs, White Sox and Brewers locally, but MLB would seemingly prefer teams mainly play intrasquad games for health and safety reasons.
During the regular season, the National League Central would play other teams in the division and teams from the American League Central. MLB would attempt to balance the schedule and make it as fair as possible.
All major-league teams have their own airplanes, but bus travel would likely be used whenever possible.
The designated hitter would be used by all teams, which makes sense. NL starting pitchers are used to hitting, but with shortened workloads due to the lengthy layoff, relief pitchers would have to be hit much more and MLB wants to avoid that.
The playoffs would feature four wild-card teams in each league, up from the usual two.
Top prospects would be on the 20-man taxi squads and there would be no minor-league baseball this season.
To salvage some development for minor leaguers, baseball is apparently open to playing an expanded Arizona Fall League while adding a Florida Fall League.