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Baseball Expanding Playoffs In 2012

Posted by Steve Lombardi on April 22, 2011

Here's the details via Newswire -

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig expects the playoffs to expand from eight teams to 10 for the 2012 season.

Selig went public last fall with his support for expanded playoffs, and the matter is subject to collective bargaining with the players' association.

"I would say we're moving to expanding the playoffs, but there's a myriad of details to work out," Selig said Thursday in New York at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. "Ten is a fair number."

Selig said scheduling is the major issue of discussion, including how many games the new wild-card round would be. The two wild-card teams in each league would meet, and the winners would advance to the following round against division winners.

"The more we've talked about it, I think we're moving inexorably to that," he said.

So, as a baseball fan, what are your thoughts on this change?

76 Responses to “Baseball Expanding Playoffs In 2012”

  1. Steve Lombardi Says:

    At first blush, I’m not a fan of this move. I am all in favor of making the road to advancement in the post-season for the wildcard team tougher. I’ve been saying that for years. But, adding another team to the mix is not the answer. Any time you provide the potential of a third-place team with 83 wins a chance to named “World Champions” you’re taking away from the integrity of the title and making the post-season more like a situation where you’re crowning the winner of an invitational tournament.

  2. Sam Says:

    This cheapens the post-season in my opinion and moves baseball closer to the NBA format, which nobody to my knowledge actually likes. Not to mention the fact that this will inevitably lead to more November baseball, which is nonsense.

  3. Bob Says:

    No. No. Please, no. I don't want teams tat don't deserve to be in the playoffs to get in. (see Seahawks, Seattle)

  4. Neil L. Says:

    @1 and @2
    The obvious counter-argument is the maintainence of interest in Sept of the cities competing for the second wild-card spot. Attendance would increase etc.

    The NBA is a poor comparison re: cheapening the regular season because rarely does a seventh or eighth seed ever advance

  5. Brian Wells Says:

    Terrible, terrible idea!

  6. Lee Says:

    Bud Selig killed the great pennant race in 1995, when baseball went to the wild card. There hasn't been a classic race since then and won't be again. The additional layer of playoffs is further dilution of a great product in blind pursuit of the filthy lucre.

  7. BSK Says:

    I don't think it is likely that this proposal increases the likelihood of an 83-win team making the playoffs. When that happens, it is usually the result of a team winning a weak division. For an 83-win team to make the playoffs via the Wild Card, that would basically mean that the other 9 or 11 teams in the league all had under 83 wins, which is highly unlikely. Wild Card teams often have *better* records than weak division winners, so rather than have years where a crappy AL West team makes it and one of the the AL East big 3 misses, you'd now get all those members in.

    That being said, I'm not in love with the idea. Expanding the playoffs just drags out what is already a too-dragged-out endeavor. They'll be playing baseball deep into November and/or starting earlier in March. I also wonder if the players will go for it. Any time you ask them to play more games, the issue of compensation rightfully comes up.

    I do see some benefits (though they have their own pitfalls as well). With the division winners likely have up to a week off while the wild cards play each other, they are more likely to play out the string competitively. Even with a division wrapped up, they wouldn't want their team going in with 2 or 3 weeks of non-competitive ball. Most would play up to game 162 and then enjoy the "bye". Of course, the "bye" could lead to a divisional round where 6 out of 8 teams are rusty. It also would make teams fight for the division more, because of the benefit of the bye. Some teams have had a shot at the division but since they had the wild card wrapped up, they didn't push because of the minimal benefit. Now, they'd have much more incentive. It also would lead more teams in contention longer, so you'd have an overall more exciting September.

    Still, I think the cons outweigh the pros and if I was a player, I would object strenuously unless increased salaries were also in the works.

  8. Neil L. Says:

    The lack of financial parity in ML baseball may be another reason for levelling the playing field in terms of mediocrity and qualifying for the post-season.

    Taking off my Toronto hat and trying to be objective for a minute, the Jays have played no "meaningful" games in September this century but would have been contending for the 2nd wild card spot in at least a couple of years.

    The Tampa Bay anomaly of the past decade notwithstanding, it is difficult to compete with the AL-East big spenders.

  9. Neil L. Says:

    I believe that people who argue that expanded playoffs somehow dilute the "purity" of baseball "pennant races" ignore the current financial inequities that exist!

    More important considerations, in my opinion, are the logistics of scheduling an additional wild card playoff round and/or shortening the regular season slightly.

  10. Mike Says:

    Horrible idea. The season is too long already! Simple as that.

  11. Sean Forman Says:

    I love it. I think that a playin series increases the importance of the divisional crowns immensely. I'm guessing the Rays Yankees race last year has a much different feel if one of them has to burn their best starter in a playin series.

  12. KB Says:

    The way I understand it, there was a time before I was born that teams actually had to be good and win to make the playoffs.

    If this new system came into place, now a losing team could become World Champions with nothing but a bit of postseason luck.

  13. KB Says:

    It seems to me that if this system went into place, the regular season becomes close to obsolete. The Pennant would truly become pointless, and the system the majors league have been using for 135 years is lost. At that point, why not just create one large tournament?

  14. Mark Says:

    My feelings are mixed. I like the idea of keeping more teams in the hunt for postseason a bit longer. On the other hand, I DON'T like the idea that it could make it harder for WC team to win a championship.

    What is the obsession with having the "best" team win in the playoffs? The whole point to having playoffs is to introduce a certain random aspect to the final determination of a champion. What is the point of watching 3 weeks of playoffs which are rigged as much as possible to reproduce the exact same results we just spent 6 months watching unfold during the season? If your #1 priority is having the so-called "best" team declared champion, forget playoffs altogether, add another month to the regular season, play 190 games and declare the team with the best record after all that to be the champion.

    This sounds like another scheme to funnel more titles in the direction of the Yankees and their oversized wallets. A LESS thrilling scenario I could not imagine for the post season.

  15. Neil L. Says:

    KB, has baseball really been using the CURRENT system for 135 years? It seems to me that division series and wild card are a little more recent than that!

    Your posts attempt to reduce the opposing point of view to the absurd.

    What are the chances of a crappy second wild card team really winning it all? With using your starters and bullpen more, not having many off days between rounds, it would become more than a long shot.

    The reason a weaker team might pull an upset in a playoff round is all the off-days for television which allow a lack of pitching depth to be hidden.

  16. Simarc Says:

    I think it would be gr8 if it's a 1 game play in. This way the WC team has to travel and then play the #1 team the following night. This would make the road for the WC much tougher. It would throw their rotation out of whack and might even kill their pen. If he makes it a 2 of 3 then that would stink, because the WS is now ending in Nov and it's way too cold in certain cities to be playing night games in Nov unless it's MNF.

  17. Dcarson10 Says:

    Not too long ago I was against this and I thought baseball had their playoff format right. It made making the playoffs an actual accomplishment. However, I recently flipped on this. There are way too many teams playing for nothing in June. I prefer an 8 team format that the NHL and NBA have. It allows for more competition and gives teams more to play for. I think the addition of the wild card is a right good idea. The season should be shortened to allow for longer playoffs. Sadly we have way too many baseball purists who are against allowing the game to change for the better.

  18. Evil Squirrel Says:

    If this came with the trade off of eliminating a bunch of those unnecessary October off days, I think it would be a grand idea. If the playoff schedule were streamlined, you could work this extra series in and still be wrapped up before Halloween so the "Oh my God, it's November and we're still playing baseball!" people would not have to sacrifice a gimpy designated hitter at the altar to appease the baseball gods over such a travesty.

    Wild card series would have to be at most 3 games, right? You make it as a wildcard, you get to live by the skin of your teeth. Win your division, or be prepared for sudden death come playoff time. Three game series at the home team of the wildcard with the better record which starts two days after the regular season ends.

    Start the Division Series the day after a possible Game 3 in the wildcard series. No off days. 2-3 format, with the two teams with the best records getting to decide whether they want to play 2 at home then three on the road, or 2 on the road then 3 at home. The wildcard and LDS series are done and over with in just over a week, and on to the LCS.

    LCS starts 2 days after the conclusion of the LDS round, with only one off day to allow the teams to catch their breath. One LCS would have an off day between Games 2 and 3, the other between 5 and 6... which could alternate between leagues each year. Barring rainouts, the LCS is over in 8 days, max.

    By now, we're about 3 weeks into the month, and you could then play a classic World Series format and still be wrapped up before the candy corn goes on clearance.

    Imagine seeing a postseason that operates more like the regular season with 4th and possibly even 5th starters heading out to the mound! Plus, you get all the advantages of the original notion of expanding the playoffs making life on the wildcard harder.

    Yeah, I know, the networks would never go for it........

  19. Simarc Says:

    I think anything that can make the road to the WS tougher for the WC team is a good thing + it keeps one more city in each league...maybe 2 more in the race in September, which creates fan interest and sells tix.

  20. Spartan Bill Says:

    They should do what the NCAA does ----make the wild card teams play in Dayton on an obscure TV network.

    Seriously, Selig should bask in the glory of finally getting something right (taking control of the Dodgers) and leave well enough alone.

  21. Dave V. Says:

    I think this is a terrible idea, for many of the same reasons that others have already commented on.

    And to those that say this is necessary because of the current financial inequities in baseball, well baseball has ALWAYS had financial inequities. The Yankees had a huge advantage during the "golden age" of baseball and there were plenty of cases of teams having to pack up ship and move elsewhere, of teams selling off all their stars, etc. The Yankees win less now than they did back when baseball was in the so-called "golden age".

    In any case, I think adding more teams to the playoffs is awful for baseball.

  22. Neil L. Says:

    Evil, I'm with you all the way! I could live with the skin-of-your teeth survival for the wild card teams with no off days.

    If only you had Bud's ear.........

    It is surprising that so few purists in here have railed against the distorting effect of television scheduling on post-season baseball compared to regular-season.

    I guess baseball will never jilt its sugar daddy!!

  23. Neil L. Says:

    oops,,,,, "NOT railed"

  24. Dave V. Says:

    I do agree with Evil Squirrel's about how the playoffs should work if they do indeed expand. Many good points...

  25. Simarc Says:

    Why would there be an issue if it's a 1 game play in w/out a day off from the end of the regular season and the start of the LDS ? This would put the WC team at a huge disadvantage since they are going to play the #1 team that has had time to set their rotation and play at home.

    As for baseball's inequities, that's the nature of the game since the owners have chosen to not share the revenue for ALL TV contracts. Granted the NFL is a once a week/national TV sport, but they got it right by sharing all TV money. This allows GB to compete evenly with the NYG.

    Selig should now take control of the Mets from the Wilponzi's just like he took over the Dodgers from the McDayInCourts.

  26. mrbmc Says:

    Yeah. Sorry. No.

    1/3 odds of making the post season dilute the significance of being the best team for the previous 6 months.

    If you really want 10 teams and a longer post-season yo need to get rid of division winners and simply take the 5 teams with the best record from each league.

  27. Tudor Fever Says:

    The most important thing is to eliminate the inequity of being in strong vs. a weak division. To the people who say that it should be tougher for a WC team to get in: why penalize the AL East teams year after year for the bad luck of not being in the Central or the West?

    It would also be nice to eliminate the advantage that the AL West has, in that a team in a 4 team division has a much better chance of getting to the postseason than a team in a larger division.

    The fairest system is to get rid of the divisions altogether and go by record. #4 plays #5 to get in, and the winner faces #1. #2 faces #3.

  28. Glanzer Says:

    @Mrbmc - I completely agree with your last sentence. If it is decided that 5 of the 14 AL teams will be making the playoffs, what's the point of having divisions? Put all the teams together and the top 5 make the playoffs. The 4 and 5 seeds square off in a 1-game playoff to advance to the next round.

    I think the major down side is the interleague play scheduling format would come into play and be heavily scrutinized moreso than it is now, with teams facing different interleague opponents.

  29. James Smyth Says:

    This playoff expansion is a terrible idea and my assumption is that it's not going to be very popular with the fan base at large.

    While it's good to somewhat penalize a wild card team for not winning their division, last year's AL race shows how the advantage can be flipped in favor of a team that was inferior during the whole season.

    The Yankees won the wild card over Boston by a comfortable margin of six games last year, falling one game short of the Rays for the division title.

    In same race under the new playoff format, the Yanks and Red Sox would play a one or three game play-in round. There would clearly be an incentive to win the division, so imagine Tampa and New York frantically trying to avoid the wild card round while that second wild card team can get their rotation in order.

    Last year Boston would've been waiting as that fifth playoff team, getting a battered Rays/Yankees loser and the Sox, after finishing third, would have an advantage in that first round.

    Basically this is my convoluted way of saying what many of you have already said, that the playoffs become watered down with expansion and it further diminishes the regular season.

  30. Matty Kid Says:

    Whew! Unlike the post title would lead you to believe, glad to see it hasn't actually been decided on yet. That said, I do not want to see any changes to current system, other than as Neil L. pointed out, the scheduling. Extra days off allow, imo, 'lesser' pitching staffs to be less exposed. Best record=home field, no more than that. Oh, and some more late afternoon games(but I know I'm dreaming on that one).

  31. Neil L. Says:

    "In same race under the new playoff format, the Yanks and Red Sox would play a one or three game play-in round. There would clearly be an incentive to win the division, so imagine Tampa and New York frantically trying to avoid the wild card round while that second wild card team can get their rotation in order. "

    James, exactly the point Sean Forman was making back in post #11 about last season's September. An expanded playoff would add to the excitement even for qualifyinh playoff teams trying to avoid the WC series!

  32. Simarc Says:

    You are backing up my point 100%. The Yankees basically conceded the division to the Rays last year because they perceived (and rightfully so) that the extra home game doesn't mean much in baseball. Now if they had to play a play in game vs Boston then fly the next day to Minnesota for the LDS (if they beat BOS), that would be a huge hurdle for them to overcome. Especially if they schedule the play in game for 8pm and their LDS game for 4pm the following day. Bet they would have fought hard for the division. JMO

  33. Mike S. Says:


  34. steven Says:

    Bud and Rog (18 NFL games "because the fans want it") sure are making it tough to maintain interest in pro sports.

  35. Neil Paine Says:

    I don't have any problem with this as long as the wild card teams are facing each other in a play-in for the right to play a division winner.

    If playoff expansion meant giving the division winners another chance to lose to an inferior team, then I would be 100% opposed to the change (the playoffs are enough of a crapshoot as it is). But in this proposal they aren't changing anything for the division winners -- if anything, they're setting them up for an easier path if the lesser wild card manages to win the play-in. And that means this is a lateral move at worst in my book.

  36. --bill Says:

    Below is a list of the median number of wins needed to win the division, the wild card, or the second wild card over the last ten years. Over the last ten years, 13 of 20 wild card teams have had more wins than one of the division leaders; 5 of the 20 second wild cards would have (and four of these were in the NL from 2003 to 2008, which produced a string of bad division winners: 2005 Padres won 82, 2006 Cardinals won 83, 2007 Cubs won 85, 2008 Dodgers won 84). One of the arguments I remember for the Wild Card was that it would allow the four best teams to play, and that's often been true. In the AL, the second wild card over the last ten years has won at least 5 games less than the wild card 8 out of 10 years (and 2001 is a shocker: the A's were the wild card with 102 wins, while the Twins would have been the second wild card with 85 wins). The disparity isn't so pronounced in the NL. A lot of the AL numbers are driven by the Yankees and Red Sox; since 2003, only once has the AL wild card been a team other than the Yankees or Red Sox (the 2006 Tigers). With this second wild card, the Yankees and Red Sox would have both made the playoffs every year since 2003, with the exception of 2006 when the AL Central would have put the Twins, Tigers, and White Sox into the playoffs.

    The wild card has changed the dynamics of pennant races. To get to the playoffs, you have to either win your division, or be the best second place team. The NL Central and West and the AL Central, it seems to me, have settled for creating teams that can win 89-94 games, since that is often enough to win the division. To win the AL East or the AL Wild Card, you need at least 95 wins. If there was a second wild card, would the Rays create a team that can consistently win 95+ games? I think the major effects of a second wild card will be two fold--first, fewer 95+ win teams, since the threshold for getting into the playoffs will be shorter, and second, a more pronounced emphasis on creating teams that can win short series. That might move the sabermetric community towards answering this question: what are the characteristics of teams that can win in the playoffs?

    AL East: 97
    AL Central: 93
    AL West: 95.5
    AL WC: 95
    AL WC2: 89.5

    NL East: 95
    NL Central: 92
    NL West: 92
    NL WC: 91
    NL WC2: 88.5

  37. Scott Says:

    Better get out the parkas and shovels for that Boston-Chicago World Series!

  38. James Smyth Says:

    Sticking with last year's race as an example, while there would be more excitement over a Rays/Yankees division race, the loser is at a disadvantage when the additional wild card has a big lead over the third team. That third place team gets a leg up knowing they'll have to play the preliminary round and they can set their rotation and rest, etc. while the top two teams beat up on each other for the division. If it's a best-of-three play-in series, perhaps this could be offset by making all three games at home for the team with the better record.

  39. Neil L. Says:

    Bill, awesome, definitive!

    "That might move the sabermetric community towards answering this question: what are the characteristics of teams that can win in the playoffs?"

    Did you mean, current playoffs or expanded playoffs or would it be virtually the same thing, in your opinion?

  40. Brent Says:

    What is funny is that we have had a defacto one game playoff system for the last several years as it was anyway. And many of those "playoff" games were classics.

    Last year, we didn't have one, but the Padres finished only game behind the Braves (and two behind the Giants, who beat them to clinch the division on the final day of the season)
    In 2009, the Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings to win the AL Central in an 163rd game
    In 2008, the Twins lost to the WhiteSox 1-0 in an 163rd game for the AL Central.
    In 2007, the Rockies beat the Padres 9-8 in 13 innings in an 163rd game to win the wild card.

    Now, we won't have a tie every year, but recent history suggests that we will many years.

  41. JeremyD Says:

    I looked back at the last 15 years of AL standings to see what the effects would be if this structure had been in place already. Granted, this is imperfect for a number of reasons, but I was curious to see certain numbers.

    If there had been a 2nd wildcard team over the past 15 years, they would have averaged 88.8 wins. The worst AL playoff team averaged 90.7. 6 times the 2nd WC would have had 90+ wins. The worst 2nd WC would have been the 97 Angels with only 84 wins, in a year Cleveland got in with only 86 wins.

    The 1st wildcard had the 2nd best record (or tied for it) in the AL 7 times, 3rd best 6 times and 4th best twice. If a 2nd wildcard team had been in place, they would have always had the 5th best record except for 2 seasons (in 98, the blue jays would matched the rangers with 88 wins, and the 93 mariners had 3 more wins than the 90-win rangers).

    3 times there would have been a tie for the 2nd wildcard. In 07 between Detroit and Seattle with 88 wins. 2002 between Boston and Seattle with 93 wins. And in 96, a 3-way between Boston, Seattle and Chicago, all with 85 wins.

    Between 96 and 2010, 12 of 14 AL teams have made the postseason (sorry Toronto & KC). Toronto would have only made it in 98. KC, still no love. Seattle would either have won or tied for the 2nd WC on 4 occassions. Boston 3 times. White Sox, A's and Indians twice. Yankees would have made it the 1 year in the past 15 that they missed the playoffs.

  42. --bill Says:


    As a Twins fan, it seems that whatever plan the Twins have, it works in the season but not in the post-season. The problem is that the other teams in the playoffs are, by definition, not typical teams.

    So, what do you need to win the World Series? At least one power pitcher, who can throttle high OBP teams by getting K's. Pinch-hitters who can hit doubles, to drive in some runs. A solid defence that keeps runners from taking the extra base. All these things can help you win in the regular season, but they aren't necessary. A team can get to 89 or 90 wins without them, but such a team often loses in the first round. So the question is: when playing high quality teams in must win situations, what do you need to win?

  43. charles Says:

    I hate it hate it hate it. what makes baseball special and so much better than the other sports is the play off race. this will make september baseball less meaningful and september baseball is more fun than october baseball as far as im concerned.

  44. ChrisBCritters Says:

    I like the idea. I think this is designed to hurt the wildcard team. The division winner gets to rest and scout the wildcard teams. The wild card teams would use their ace in the playoff game or cames to get in to the rest of the playoffs. So the best teams get the advantage and those that did not win their division will have to really fight to get to the world series.

    I also hear (Mike and Mike) about making this game possibly going to a neutral location. It could be a one day no home field advantage game. May the best man win. I would like to see them play it in a city were baseball is not played normally. I could see it as a big event.

    I also could see another way is there being a home field advantage, but what happens when both teams are tied. how about if two teams are tied at the top of the division. A division winner game and then a wildcard game??

    This also opens up the possiblity for more ties at the end of the season. I wonder how they would handle that???

    Will add at a lot of interest.

  45. Peter John Says:

    I dunno - hard to say really. Baseball to me is one of those games where the playoffs really denote the best teams in the league. Hard to argue against top heavy divisions though. Some of those teams actually are deserving of a playoff spot.

    If anyone remembers - I did really enjoy that 1 game playoff between the Rockies and the Padres a few years ago. Holliday sliding head first like that in extras was really exciting! Not to mention - The Rockies that year was fun to watch.

  46. Spartan Bill Says:

    #44 ChrisBCritters said:

    "I would like to see them play it in a city were baseball is not played normally"

    I nominate Pittsburgh

    BTW great name

  47. Neil L. Says:

    Cruel, Spartan!!!

  48. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Without getting all technical, one of the main reasons I prefer baseball over the other three main American sports is that playing in the postseason is more difficult in baseball than the other three sports. This proposal would make it somewhat less difficult to make the postseason in baseball, so I do not like it.

    Well, at least it won't let in a below-.500 team in, right?

  49. andyr Says:

    Let's totally homogenize everything- contract Tampa and Oakland, put the remaining 28 teams in one table. Play each team 3 home, 3 away, for 162. Take the top ten teams, play 7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9 in a one-game knockout. Best-of-five series next, with higher ranked team getting 4 home games, then proceed as usual.

    Have I bastardized things enough yet?

  50. andyr Says:

    Hopefully, everyone will notice the tongue firmly in cheek...

  51. hysteria1978 Says:

    I'm not a fan of this move either.

    What do we think of this idea...
    Keep the current sytem with the following exceptions...
    * Extend round 1 to best of 7 (less chance of the weaker team winning)
    * Round one Wild Card gets only 2 home games (tougher on Wild Card)
    * LCS stays the same.
    * World Series extended to best of 9.

  52. Mr. Sparkle Says:

    Hate it. Selig continues on his mission to destroy baseball.

    Strange thing about this plan. I thought the idea all along was to revamp the post-season to try and find a way to "punish" the wild-card teams for not winning their division. According to this plan, it actually helps the wild-card teams by guaranteeing them at least one Championship Series slot every year, since the winner of the Wild-Card Series in each league will play each other with one advancing.

    You want to change the playoffs, here's my plan to improve them. If anything, keep the system the way it is except for expanding the Division Series to a best of seven. I don't care about making the road harder for wild card teams. Sometimes, they're superior to division winners, but happen to be in a tougher division. They should be punished for that? I'll concede to not letting them have home field in either DS or CS, but that's it. World series goes to the best record no matter what.

    On that note, home field should be determined by best record (except as noted above.) Go back to the all-star game being just an exhibition. Personally, I think there were a lot of people that were just fine with a tie in 2002. Sorry if King Selig was embarrassed. Too bad. I don't hear people complaining about spring training ties...or is that next on his agenda?

    Also, how about the wild-card team plays the team with the best record regardless of whether or not they're in the same division. So, the Yankees finish with the best record in baseball and the Red Sox are the wild-card team...guess what? They play in the first round (now a best of seven under my plan.) I never understood why they wouldn't allow that anyway.

    Also, eliminate long waiting periods between series when possible. One day between series after both teams advance. No more week delay between series. I don't want to hear the, "it's just not possible" argument. That's a load of bull. That solves part of the scheduling problem. Also, allow one scheduled day off during series. They move from city to city without days off during the regular season. Why is it such a burden come October. Sure, teams will be forced to use a fourth starter. Too bad.

    I know many people will hate these ideas. That's cool. It's hard to argue they're worse than the garbage ideas Selig comes up with. I hate the NBA and don't really care much for the NHL. Why does he think MLB has to be more like them? I've got news for's not going to help the small market any more than any other of his convoluted ideas.

  53. Rasputin Says:

    It floors me that there are ANY people against this. That there are so many against this is beyond astonishing.

    This system would result in:

    1) More meaningful regular season games. If you think this devalues the regular season, you haven't thought it through. The advantage gained by getting a first round bye is phenomenally huge. If each series were decided by a coin flip, eliminating a round for yourself would be doubling your chance of winning. In the real world where it makes it more likely you'll be able to set your rotation and virtually guarantees your opponent won't be the effect is even greater. And it should be obvious that more teams will feel like they have a chance because well, more teams will have a chance.

    2) More meaningful post season games.

    3) A greater likelihood of the best teams meeting in the LCS and World Series. This is a byproduct of 1.

    And it need not lengthen the post season calendar. All you would need to do is eliminate extraneous off days. This would enable you to have a three game wild card series and division, LCS and world series of seven games each.

    One day with no games after the regular season in case you need some one game playoffs.

    The two wild card series get played simultaneously with no off days.

    One day between the end of the wild card series and the start of the division series. Have one division series start a day later to minimize the times you get four games in a day. One off day after game 4.

    If one league has the division series end before the other then the first LCS starts the day after the other league finishes their division series. If they both end on the same day then allow one travel day.

    One travel day in each 7 game LCS

    One travel day between the last LCS game and the start of the world series.

    Last year with the regular season ending on 10/3, and assuming that every series went the distance, this would have put Game 5 of the World Series on 11/2. In the real world of last year, Game 5 of the World Series was on 11/1 when only one post season series went the distance.

    Give more teams a chance. Put more emphasis on winning the division. Eliminate off days in the post season. MORE COMPELLING BASEBALL.

    It's all good.

  54. Casey Says:

    ... another point to me is that it wont increase the chances of a 83 win team winning it all will it? Two of those teams will face each other right away, and one will be eliminated.

  55. Mike S. Says:

    @ 53; Some people remember baseball before wild cards. Before divisions. Pre-1969 and prefer it that way. Personally, I'd love to go back to 24 teams, East /West, no wild card. 18 games against each in your division, 12 games each against the other division. No interleague. The baseball I remember while a kid from 1969-1976. I know it won't happen. But all the recent changes I hate. Hate Bud Selig. Hate watered-down baseball. I don't want baseball's playoffs to get like (Ugh) the NBA or NHL and that's the road Bud's going down. HATE IT.

  56. andyr Says:

    I can live with wild-cards, but the unbalanced schedule can create huge inequities. Say the Cardinals and Marlins are going for the wild card- the Cardinals in theory would have an easier schedule than the Marlins because of being in a "weaker" division. The interleague games have the same inherent problems. I'd just like to see everyone play an equal schedule- maybe not possible in the current set-up...

  57. JDV Says:

    This was the obvious next step when Selig moved the regular season start date up this year, but he wouldn't admit it then. I hate the idea, as I have hated pretty much every one of his ideas.

  58. KB Says:

    @Niel L (#13 specifically):

    You said:

    "KB, has baseball really been using the CURRENT system for 135 years? It seems to me that division series and wild card are a little more recent than that!"

    When did I say the majors have been using the current system for the last 135 years? When I mentioned that the majors have used the same system, I was specifically referring to the regular season. I said as much in the previous sentence. Indeed, the wild card and divisional races are more recent, but as far as I know, baseball is still using the regular season. How is that at all absurd? I respectfully ask for you to read comments more carefully before criticizing.

    You also wrote:

    "What are the chances of a second wild card team really winning it all? "

    I disagree. I mean, look at the '06 Cardinals. Their chances were lousy, but they pulled it of. Don't get me wrong, it's not the exact same situation, but indeed small odds have never stopped teams before.

    But for the sake of argument, if you are right, then why should they be in the playoffs in the first place? If they can't win, it's useless. Indeed, perhaps money can be generated, but your point is lost.

  59. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    Nobody at the Commissioner's office ever asks me how to solve baseball's problems, so I will simply post it as a public service.
    ( It would help if baseball HAD a Commissioner.)
    Make each month on the schedule a round-robin tournament.
    Every Monday is an off-day to allow for rainouts to be re-scheduled.
    Each month's champions meet in a Champion of Champions Super Tournament in September.
    Teams that win multiple monthly championships earn a bye out of the first round.
    The September Super Tournament of Champions is considered part of the regular season, for purposes of player stats determining league leaders because of the performances bonuses that are part of many players' contracts. Over an 8-year period, those features in individual player contracts are phased out as contracts expire, and a system of standardized performance rewards for all players is adopted in 2020. This creates a system of incentives across the board for all players, even those on "losing" teams because the first of each month all the teams start over at 0-0 while the players' stats keep accumulating, so the incentive to be a "team player" remains constant all season and the pursuit of individual incentive bonus money benefits the team.
    The economic theory behind this system is fundamentally rock-solid and unimpeachable, mainly because I'm making it up as I write this. Isn't that how you become Commissioner???
    The winners of the September Super Tournament of Champions in each league play in the World Series the first week of October.
    The baseball season is done by October 10.
    The All-Star Game has no bearing on post-season home field advantage, because there is no longer a post-season.
    The All-Star Game is played on the 4th of July in the daytime, with a fireworks show at the ballpark that evening. In between, kids in the crowd get to come on the field and play a game of pickup sandlot ball with the All-Stars.
    Any player who "opts out" of the All-Star Game forfeits his incentive bonuses earned to that point and is suspended for the remainder of the season. If his team plays in the World Series, his share of the money and his incentive bonuses cover the cost of free tickets for kids to the World Series. The kids who get the tickets are the ones from local schools with straight A's, perfect attendance, and/or played on some kind of championship team except soccer.

  60. andyr Says:


    I'd like to see the All-Star game (on July 4) be done like the NHL All-Star game this past season- select a captain from each league, and have them choose up sides regardless of leagues- a true sandlot-style game. Of course, keep your idea of a kids' pick-up game against the All-Stars before the fireworks show...

  61. Neil L. Says:

    KB, I apologize for being sarcastic in the first part of post 15. I did assume you meant the last 135 years. However, division play started in 1969, so one aspect of the current format started then.

    But by saying that every team should participate in a post-season tournament also misses the point that other people were saying.

  62. KB Says:


    Agreed nonetheless. Thanks.

  63. Brendan Says:

    One thing everyone seems to be missing: what if two teams are tied for their division title and a wild card? The current method (head-to-head record) would not work due to the byes, so that leaves a de facto zeroth round where the winner advances to Round 2 and the loser to Round 1.

  64. PhilsPhan Says:

    This will mess up teams in the process of rebuilding if you don't have a really patient front office. This will lower the bar for getting into the playoffs (obviously) and then said that teams will be more inclined to go "all-in" since they have a better chance of getting in the playoffs now. The problem is that the goal shouldn't be to (only) make the playoffs this year. It should be about winning multiple championships. A team that can win a title should go all-in, but you shouldn't sacrifice your future core to simply make the playoffs now.

  65. Fireworks Says:

    I'm surprised that so many people are against this. This is what I thought up on my own and mentioned a few times to people over the past few years.

    I have discussed the way the baseball regular season and postseason are structured now and have been structured in the past many times and am fully prepared to dismiss sentimental arguments as rubbish. Baseball fans often resort to nostalgic, sentimental arguments that lack any sort of persuasiveness; the argument basically is a classic appeal to the idea that things were better before or are better right now, and that change is stupid, destructive, and greedy and I don't buy that as an argument all by itself, else baseball would still basically just be a variation of cricket instead of the distinctly different but related game that it is today.

    Anyway, the league is not going to contract a half-dozen teams, and yearning for the pre-division era structure is silly at best. People make such arguments as if they do not understand that baseball is firstly a business and more postseason teams are good for business and fan interest.

    I could probably go on but I am wont to ramble so I shall just move on to why I think a second wild-card team is a good idea.

    Baseball, like hockey, is a crapshoot in the postseason. The best team does not always win because both sports heavily depend upon one player (the pitcher in baseball; the goalie in hockey) whose performance is by far the most important for the team and is somewhat variable such that your inferior opposite may outperform you a good fraction of the time. Contrast it with basketball, where there is less specialization of roles and the best team usually wins a postseason series. We are surprised when a HoF-caliber basketball player is outperformed by a guy who barely holds his starting position over a bench player, but we are much less surprised (or should be) when a HoF-caliber pitcher is outdueled by a guy who is only a notch or two above working long relief.

    The above paragraph exists merely for those whom do not realize that in spite of the Yankees great postseason success, the 'best' baseball team just doesn't win it all very often compared to a sport like basketball with its playoff system where more are included than are excluded. That being true, what does this proposed second wild card team do to the postseason?

    Firstly, it punishes teams that do not win their division. Secondly, while the details haven't yet been worked out I imagine that there will be an effort to ensure that the winner of the wild-card round goes to face the team with the best record in the league, thus rewarding the best team.

    More often than not the best team or two in the league will be able to set its rotation and get its house in order while the two wild-card teams have to throw their best guys and, if this system is done right, begin the next round with inferior starters instead of their aces.

    In fact, the overall net benefit of such a system (if in fact the wild-card winner always faces the best division winner) is that it would be the biggest benefit to the best regular season team since the time when only one team per league made the postseason and of course went directly to the World Series.

    I'm all for it.

    While we're talking about such things, personally I would prefer if the league expanded to 32 teams (no really) and went back to two divisions per league (eight teams per division, obviously), or the second-best option, contracting to 28 teams (two divisions per league, seven per division). I find the imbalanced schedules, divisions, and league to be far more detrimental to a proper and fair regular season than the "dilution" of the postseason by creating a wild-card round. In summary, for a game like baseball, in terms of teams, 32 > 28 > 30. Divisible by 8 and 4 and 2 > divisible by 4 and 2 > divisible by only 2.


    I prefer a three-game series to a one-game playoff for the wild-card round, but would be satisfied with either. Now if we could reduce the off-days during the postseason, that would be something. But I recognize that business interests are paramount to the networks airing the postseason games and that such changes are unlikely to happen.

    Still, I would prefer to have there be one day off after the end of the regular season, followed by three days of wild card games, whereupon the winner immediately travels to face the team with the best record. They can get a day off if they win the first two games against the other wild card. The division series should be expanded to seven games (definitely expand if if you don't add a wild-card team), and ideally every series would have days off only for travel days. You could (should) play a three game wild card round and three rounds each of seven games in as little as thirty-three days. It'll never happen, but it's nice to think about.

  66. Fireworks Says:

    In the last paragraph I said "in as little as thirty-three days." I meant that 33 days is the longest it should take. Ideally all of the major sports other than football will one day rid themselves of the set postseason schedule and begin series in the next round as soon as the previous round ends with just one or two days off between. Also, if you read that far, congrats. The length of the previous post is precisely why I post so little here. Brevity is not my strong suit.

  67. gevan Says:

    I've been wanting this for more than ten years. Just don't make the division winners wait around. Make it a one game sudden death playoff.

  68. Neil L. Says:

    Re-reading the posts in here, its hard to believe how polarized the views are about expanding the post-season.

    Advocates of one position or the other can't see how the other side could possibly feel that way. I wonder why?

  69. Neil L. Says:

    @65 @66
    Fireworks, I've read every word of your post twice and parts of it three times.

    When the quality of what you write is as high as that, who cares about brevity. You make an intelligent, reasoned case for the second wild card and you dispel a lot of misconceptions about the "devaluation" of being a division winner or having the best record in the league.

    I particularly agree with your analysis of why the baseball playoffs are so unpredictable in terms of regular-season performance and feel that your comparison with the NHL post-season are bang on!

    Can't speak for the creators of this site or any one else, but.......keeping on posting!!

  70. John Autin Says:

    @65, Fireworks -- Well put.

    I support a 2nd WC team as long as everything is structured to make the WC's path to the WS more strenuous. Specifically:
    -- The WC round should be short: 1 game, best of 3, or (my favorite) a max. 2-game set in which the team with the better record needs only 1 win to advance.
    -- There should be no days off between the WC round and the next round.
    -- The advancing WC team must, must, MUST play the team with the best record.

    Sadly, I have no confidence in MLB to get any one of those things right. In particular, if MLB (i.e., Selig) has so far expressed any leaning toward changing the current LDS rule that a WC cannot play its own division winner, it has yet to reach my ears. And that is one of the gosh-dang-dumbest rules ever. Its stated purpose was to "preserve the integrity of the division races," i.e., don't make the division winner who has already beaten out the WC turn around and face that WC in the opening round. I am dubious whether the rule does anything for that division winner; what I'm sure of is that it gives the WC an easier path to the LCS, thus eroding the integrity of the other two divisional races.

    And as for keeping the WC round brief -- if there's an extra TV million to be made by lengthening it, MLB's track record shows that they'll grab for the money.

  71. John Autin Says:

    @68, Neil L -- One possible reason for the polarized views is the accelerated pace of change in the postseason format.

    -- After 68 years of just the World Series, the LCS was introduced in 1969.
    -- After 25 years of that format, the wild card was introduced in 1994 (first played in '95).
    -- After 16 years of the current format, a second WC team and a separate WC round is described as "inexorable."

    There are plenty of people writing here who were following baseball for years under the original format. It's a lot of change to absorb in one lifetime.

  72. Neil L. Says:

    I hear you, JA, but what is that saying about the average age of we who follow this site regularly?

    Younger people are the future of baseball, both in terms of financial support and support for rule changes .

    It would be interesting to break down the posts in this site by age demographics.

  73. John Autin Says:

    Neil L -- FWIW, I'm 47, and my first MLB team was the '69 Tigers. So I've only known divisional play.

  74. Sean Says:

    I'm for adding a televised mauling of Bud Selig by mountain lions. The number of teams in the baseball playoffs is at critical mass, IMO.

    You wanna give more teams a chance to be in the postseason? Have a salary cap. And reward the best teams. Don't allow a pretender in a back door as a 5th team to go and soil things.

    None of these decisions Selig makes are to better the game. They are to make $$.

    And you could make a lot of money televising Selig being attacked by mountain lions... just sayin'.

  75. Sean Says:

    A few things I want to touch on...

    I don't think the MLB playoffs are the crapshoot that many make them out to be...

    They should NOT be confused with the NHL, where 1 hot player (the goalie) can change the fortunes of the team. Baseball requires a rotation of pitchers and a bullpen. I liken pitching more to defense in football than to a goalie.

    What wins in the MLB playoffs can be slightly different than the regular season------because they are different 'tests'. One is a 162-game GRIND and the management over it's course and player usage is different than in a tournament of short best-of series. This doesn't make the playoffs a crapshoot by any means... rather it's just a test of somewhat different capabilities. Your 4th and 5th starters are largely irrelevent in a playoff series. Your bench and bullpen as far as mixing and matching in the late innings become MORE relevent. Some lineups that mash mediocre pitching all year get exposed in the playoffs as the pitching improves. Some lineups are filled with batters that kill average pitching, but have holes in their swings that get exposed by better pitchers.

    The Yankees' failure to win more WS since 2000 isn't some evidence that it's a crapshoot in the playoffs-------but rather evidence that the construction of their teams since 2000 ISN'T the best made for the postseason in any one of those given years except 2009. The quality of the tops of their rotations in many of those years could be brought into question, for starters.

    The lengths some want to go with the 'penalizing' of the Wild Card because they 'didn't win a division' doesn't sit well with me.

    Why don't we just throw acid in the Wild Cards' faces right before 1st pitch? That will teach them to show up uninvited..... WAIT.... they WERE invited.

    Why would you invite someone to the party, then make it incredibly difficult on them? What's the point?

    Invite Carrie to the prom, then dump pig blood on her. Nice.

    Forget about 'rewarding' the division winners by bleeding the Wild Card like the gladiator just before he faces the emperor 'so that it's fair to the emperor'.... that's nonsense.

    The Yankees spend $50 million MORE than the next highest spending team----------and it's unfair to THEM that the Wild Card team isn't shackled during the series with them?

    That's what would happen in the AL. I think in the last 15 years, the Yankees have made the playoffs 14 times and have won the division 12 times. They've had their share and more of the 'best record' and since 2001, have had increasingly disproportionate payrolls....... you would be REALLY paving the way for an LCS appearance for the Yankees without true competition in the Divisional Round. All the while ignoring the 800 lb gorilla that is the ridiculously unequal payroll issue. What's sporting about that?

    You would be rewarding the Yankees for spending that extra $50+ Million just to scratch out the extra 2-4 wins over 162 games necessary to avoid the Wild Card position-------which you want to be pure HELL.

    If the Yankees won 100 games and the 2nd best team over 162 games was also in that division----------why penalize them like they did LESS than an 88-win division winnner from the Central? Tampa Bay and Boston shouldn't be treated as garbage because they finished 2 games behind the Yankees but ahead of everyone else.

    And then there's the situation with a banged up 89 win Red Sox Team last year getting the 2nd WC. 5th best record in the AL, 3rd best in their division--------they don't belong in the playoffs.

    Forget handicapping the Wild Cards in the name of what's *right* until you do something about the payroll disparity.


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