With MLB teams’ magic numbers dwindling until they clinch a playoff berth, they’re undoubtedly excited to celebrate their trips to the postseason soon.
However, playoff celebrations will look a little different this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Tampa Bay Times‘ Marc Topkin and the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman, MLB officials are finalizing plans for how teams should safely enjoy earning a playoff spot.
Under the proposed plans, teams will celebrate on the field instead of crowding together in the clubhouse, even if they’re on the road. Players will be asked to wear face masks and maintain some level of social distancing. But MLB’s most notable change includes asking players not to pop champagne bottles to avoid violations to its health and safety protocols.
With no champagne bottles and dog piles, much like the Cubs’ after Alec Mills threw a no-hitter against the Brewers on Sunday, the new rules will eliminate the celebratory moments players dream of having after endless hours of hard work.
Despite the changes, MLB will have a higher number of playoff celebrations this year under its expanded postseason format. The new structure will see 16 teams–eight from the American League and eight from the National League-play in October. Three division winners will be named the top seeds, followed by three second-place teams and the final two qualifiers considered the “wild card” teams (seeded Nos. 7 and 8 in the bracket). The expanded format, which includes four rounds, is only scheduled to be used in 2020.
In the first round, all games in the best-of-three series will be played at the top four seeds’ home ballparks. After that, the remaining teams will play in bubbles in either Texas (NL teams) or California (AL teams).
Despite the bubble atmosphere, they won’t be popping any bubbly.