There was a lot more to this strange, pandemic-addled MLB season than just shortened games. It took a rapid set of tense deliberations to finalize the rules changes that made baseball possible in 2020. MLB players had a lot to say about the controversial changes. But deliberations were kept short in the interest of bringing games to fans ASAP.
Now that the World Series has come to a close, players will have time to take a breath and review what worked. Powerhouse sports agent Scott Boras, who represents major clients like Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, and Stephen Strasburg, certainly has some ideas on the topic. In particular, he wants the COVID-19 version of the World Series to come back. Here’s why.
Scott Boras’s take on the World Series at a neutral site
During the pandemic-related deliberations, Boras quickly focused on one point to bring up to the media at every turn. He wanted the World Series to be changed from the usual home/away site location, into something different. Something potentially lucrative — and, crucially, familiar for fans of the biggest sport in America.
According to The Score, Boras was an early voice in pushing for the World Series to occur at a neutral site. He leveraged a scheduling issue and the realities of the pandemic as a springboard for the concept. With the games taking place later in the year than normal, cold weather could be an issue. And, to protect the integrity of the World Series from COVID-19 infections, it simply made sense to host the games in a single, neutral location.
Scott Boras wanted more than just a neutral World Series site
Boras’ appearance on MLB Radio started with the neutral site idea. But he wanted much more than a safer bubble to avoid COVID-19 spread. He wanted to directly emulate the NFL’s Super Bowl week.
“There’s potential [to have] a World Series Week,” Boras said. “[We can] have a gala for all of the awards there, and have all of the stars there, and have a reason for teams to bring their season-ticket holders there.” He even called for a potential switch to playing each game on consecutive days, given the lack of travel time.
Most of that was never in the cards for 2020, given how many gatherings of people would be involved. It made it clear that Boras, and likely some of the players he represents, have been giving this issue thought since well before the pandemic arrived. The pageantry is little more than a gleam in the agent’s eye, but he did get his way on the main point he proposed.
How the neutral site played out in the World Series
The LA Dodgers squared up against the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2020 World Series. Rather than meeting at each team’s park, they played each game at a neutral site in Texas. The stadium was mostly dominated by Dodgers fans, which kept the Rays on their toes. The Tampa squad lost in the end, but not before a shocking upset in one of the best World Series games.
The games mostly went off without a hitch. The realities of the pandemic didn’t loom until late in the sixth and final game. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was mysteriously pulled from the game in the seventh inning, according to TMZ. It wasn’t revealed until after the final pitch was thrown that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Outside of that incident, the 2020 World Series was mostly a seamless success. The New York Times reports that Boras, of course, reiterated his affection for the format. “Let’s create a product that does receive the attention of the Super Bowl,” Boras said.
The influential agent stuck to his guns that an uninterrupted, content-filled seven-day schedule was crucial to his plan. “This is the best Netflix series you could ever want,” he said, referring to the concept of fans being able to binge baseball for a week straight. It would change the face of MLB, sure, but after a season where the designated hitter came to the National League, why not keep the breaks with tradition rolling?