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Nolan Ryan stands outside the new $1.2 billion Texas Rangers ballpark outside Dallas, which has been completed but not opened. Photo: Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP

Major League Baseball sees midsummer as the likely best case for opening the season, probably with no fans in the stands, sources tell me.

The state of play: In the hope that opening over the Fourth of July holiday weekend might be feasible, some executives are considering the tagline: "America's game is back on America's birthday."

One scenario calls for a few weeks of "spring training" in June, ahead of a shortened season.

  • USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who tends to have good sources, reports that MLB officials "have become cautiously optimistic this week that the season will start in late June, and no later than July 2."

Nothing is decided, and you'll hear all kinds of possibilities floated by the league, players, agents and broadcasters. But I'm told that given the expectation that the games will be closed to fans, it makes sense to use as few ballparks as possible.

  • One idea is to base all the teams in Phoenix. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has said his state is willing to host all 30 MLB teams when public health allows.
  • There's also talk of grouping teams in Arizona, Texas and Florida, depending on health conditions, AP Baseball Writer Stephen Hawkins reports.

Go deeper: Baseball's uncertain future

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Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Aug 6, 2020 - Sports

6 teams are vying for the last playoff spot in the NBA's Western Conference

The Suns have won all three seeding games, capped off by Devin Booker's game-winner Tuesday night. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The race for eighth in the NBA's Western Conference is heating up, and with the playoffs just 11 days away, we're all but guaranteed to see the first-ever postseason play-in game.

How it works: A play-in game will only occur if the eighth and ninth seeds are within four games of each other when the regular season concludes.

Updated 7 mins ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

9 mins ago - World

Abbas announces first Palestinian elections in 15 years

Abbas is 85 and in the 15th year of a 4-year term. Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: This is the first time in 15 years that such a decree has been published. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.