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Albert Belle has thought of a plan to salvage the 2020 Major League Baseball season that's on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The retired slugger - and self-proclaimed "numbers cruncher" - projects that if the league redraws its schedule and aims for a May 25 (Memorial Day) Opening Day, a 112-game slate is possible.
"You have 30 teams, 15 in the American League and 15 in the National League," Belle said, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. "If each AL team plays each other four times at home and four times on the road that’s 112 games. You’d have the same thing in the National League.
"Forget about the inter-league play. Forget about the All-Star Game. Just play. You’d just have a mini-marathon. We could tweak the schedule, turn back the clock and have some fun with it."
League commissioner Rob Manfred recently expressed optimism that the season will start in May, but he thinks a full 162-game schedule is unlikely. However, starting by Memorial Day could be off the table if states extend stay-at-home orders.
Belle thinks his suggested schedule will limit exposure due to less rigorous travel.
"You’ve got nothing but time," the 12-year major leaguer said. "I think for the players' safety, and the fans, if everyone moves around less it would be good."
The five-time All-Star knows a thing or two about work stoppages. He played for the Cleveland Indians in 1994 when a players strike canceled the end of the season, resulting in a 144-game schedule once play resumed in 1995.
He arguably produced the best season of his career in 1995, batting .317/.401/.690 with 50 home runs and 126 RBIs in 143 games, so maybe Belle is onto something.
In addition to his eight seasons in Cleveland, Belle also played for the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles before retiring after the 2000 campaign. He hit a home run in his final major-league at-bat.