Major League Baseball Considering Playoff Expansion

Published by: dallaseste on 21st Apr 2011 | View all blogs by dallaseste
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Major League Baseball Considering Playoff Expansion

Among the topics discussed by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig Thursday at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors was an expansion of the league's playoff system.  Since 1995, eight of the league's 30 teams advance to MLB's postseason, three divisions winners and one wildcard each from both the National and American Leagues.  By contrast, the NFL awards a postseason berth to 12 of 32 teams while both the NBA and NHL both send more than half their teams, 16 of 30, to the playoffs.

From Selig's remarks, it sounds as if it's a done deal.  “I would say we're moving to expanding the playoffs, but there's a myriad of details to work out,” Selig said.  “Ten is a fair number.”  The “details” to be worked out are what the format would be.  The most likely scenario would be that the two wildcard teams in each league would play each other in the first round, with the winners moving on to face the top-seeded division winners in the second, or divisional round, where the playoffs would continue as it has before.

The biggest question, however, is the format of the wildcard series itself.  So far, both the players and the owners appear to be favoring either a single game or best-of-three format, rather than a best-of-five or best-of-seven series.  The parties are opposed to a longer series because it would push the season into colder weather, increasing the odds of extreme weather causing game postponements in the Fall Classic.  Economic issues, competitive impact, and player safety will all be looked at before a format is set.

Nothing will be decided, however, until the MLB owners and the MLP Players Association agree on a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires in December.  Among the other issues are the owners' desire to institute a worldwide amateur draft and their desire of a slotting system to determine signing bonuses for draft picks.  Selig also addressed the Major League Records held by Barry Bonds, saying that he will not consider altering the record books, despite Bonds' conviction last week for obstruction of justice.  Bonds is the MLB record holder for career home runs with 762, and single-season home runs with 73 in 2001.

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