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Braves would join “Central” region in new MLB season proposal; officials optimistic about June start

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The most recent proposal, which is said to be gaining traction in front offices, would effectively combine with East, Central and West divisions, but with the Braves and Pirates swapping places.

Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game Five Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Good news has been hard to come by in recent weeks, but a new report from USA Today should bring some hope to baseball fans everywhere. According to the report, “MLB officials have become cautiously optimistic this week that the season will start in late June, and no later than July 2, playing at least 100 regular-season games, according to three executives with knowledge of the talks.”

How would it work? Instead of the earlier proposed plans of an Arizona-only or an Arizona and Florida League setup — which many players balked at given they would be isolated from their families for months at a time — the new plan would institute three “regions” to minimize travel and still allow for 100-120 games. Games would be played in home ballparks without fans (at least to start). Here are the proposed alignments:

CENTRAL

  • Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers

EAST

  • New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins

WEST

  • Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners

As you can see, this plan essentially combines the AL and NL East, Central and West divisions, except with the Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates swapping divisions for geographic reasons. The Braves have always been on a bit of an island geographically (they were once in the NL West, of course) and the idea of joining the Central is appealing instead of the Yankees-Mets-Red Sox-Nationals-Phillies-Rays gauntlet.

It’s important to note these are just proposals, but this report along with ESPN’s report yesterday do seem like a baseball season has a better chance of happening than not. Here’s hoping we get some baseball this summer.