Start dates eyed for MLB, NASCAR, NHL
MLB considers three 10-team divisions for 2020
One division could house the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and New York Mets. Another would toss the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals into the same 10-team alignment.
This is one plan being discussed by Major League Baseball geared toward returning to play meaningful games by midsummer, with teams competing in Florida, Texas and Arizona.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported the structure is gaining support from players and team officials.
A West Division could include the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and others.
With regional divisions, baseball could also shift to allowing the division games to take place in the home parks of each team. Fan attendance would be determined at a later date based on the coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions on distancing.
The three, 10-team divisions would maintain most natural rivalries while blending American League and National League teams that would play only those divisional opponents over the course of the regular season.
NASCAR sent teams a schedule for the next two months that starts with a return to racing on May 17 at Darlington, South Carolina, Autoweek reported on Tuesday, April 28.
The race would be one of five in May and among four held near most of the NASCAR team's home bases to restart the 2020 schedule.
NASCAR officials said in March when the season was suspended that their goal would be to complete the season. Initial thoughts focused on getting the season rolling in Texas with one or two events.
South Carolina has relaxed coronavirus restrictions and Charlotte, North Carolina, is following suit. Charlotte will host the third and fourth races after the return to racing.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the state plans to put on the Coca-Cola 600 for the 60th consecutive year unless the coronavirus pandemic should worsen.
"We believe that unless health conditions go down, we believe we can hold the Coca-Cola 600," Cooper said.
It is expected NASCAR initially will operate without live pit stops, reducing the number of team pit crew members by at least five. The exact number of team personnel and officials deemed essential has not been decided.
The schedule obtained by Autoweek is as follows:
Sun., May 17: Darlington 400
Wed., May 20: Darlington 310
Sun., May 24: Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
Wed., May 27: Charlotte 310
Sun., May 31: Martinsville
Wed., June 3: Bristol
Sun., June 7: Atlanta
Sun., June 14: Miami
The National Hockey League said on Wednesday it hopes to reopen training facilities to players by mid-to-late May as long as local restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic allow for a return to small group activities.
The NHL suspended play in mid-March as part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus with three weeks and 189 games left in its regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs scheduled to end in June.
Given recent developments in some team's local communities, the NHL and NHL Players' Association said they are looking ahead to a new phase that would follow the currently recommended period of "self-quarantine".
"The precise date of transition to Phase 2, during which players might return to small group activities in NHL club training facilities, remains undetermined," the league and union said in a joint statement.
"However, provided that conditions continue to trend favorably — and, subject to potential competitive concerns as between disparately situated markets — we believe we may be able to move to Phase 2 at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May."
The league and players' union also said they have not made any decisions or set a timeline for a possible return to play.
The NHL has had a number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among its 31 teams, which are spread across the United States and Canada.