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Major League Baseball by July 4? Here are some ways being considered

From a reduced schedule to realigning the leagues and playing in minor league ballparks, here are some of the options being thrown around.
Credit: AP
Mathew Gudin paints the opening day signage on the field before the Cleveland Indians play the Chicago White Sox in a baseball game, Monday, April 1, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Major League Baseball is growing more confident that there will be a baseball season after all. At least two reports identified late June or early July as a likely time frame for the 2020 season's Opening Day. 

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the "most realistic time range for Opening Day — somewhere between mid-June and July 4, in the view of most officials — would allow for an 80- to 100-game regular season, with the schedule running through October." 

Rosenthal noted that plan would include an expanded postseason at neutral sites, with the World Series ending as late as early December. He also reported that some team officials believe ballparks will be able to welcome in limited fans in August or September. 

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USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale also reported Tuesday that MLB officials are growing optimistic the season could start in late June, but not later than July 2.

Nightengale added that MLB is considering a plan that would create three-divisions, with 10-teams each, and teams would only play within their division. The plan would allow teams to play at their home ballparks while cutting back on travel. 

The divisions would be as follows.

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

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

Nightengale did not say how the designated hitter might be utilized.

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Another idea being considered is the three-state option, utilizing major league and minor league ball parks in Florida, Arizona and Texas, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Halicke. Four of those MLB parks either have a dome or retractable roof, meaning that multiple games could be scheduled per day without fear of inclement weather. Because all the parks in each state would be within a few hours drive of each other, a robust schedule could be played. This plan would also require a realignment of divisions.

Similar to the three-state plan, a possible two-state plan in Florida and Arizona has been talked about, with teams playing in minor league parks and the teams divided into their respective Grapefruit and Cactus spring training leagues.

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