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Bloops: MLB Adding Wildcard Teams, Holding One-Game Playoff

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 24, 2011

Via Joel Sherman -

Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement for major league baseball are moving at a fast pace and one issue the sides have all but agreed upon is adding two wild-card teams and holding one-game playoffs in each league to determine which of the wild cards advances, The Post has learned.

One person involved in the talks described that scenario as a done deal and another hedged a little by saying it is likely to play out that way, but nothing will be finalized until an entire CBA is inked.

Both sources said because there would be just a one-game playoff added, the second wild-card team could be installed as early as next year, but the new system will go into effect no later than 2013.

What are you thoughts on this - now that it seems to be happening, for sure?

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at 8:40 am and is filed under Bloops. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

68 Responses to “Bloops: MLB Adding Wildcard Teams, Holding One-Game Playoff”

  1. Pretty damn stupid. This is not the NFL, or college basketball. Why do we need another playoff team, for a one-and-done? If you want more playoff teams, at least have a 3-or-5 game series.

  2. It would effect the starting rotation plans for the playoffs.

    If you have a 3 team race for the WC like you do this year, the #2 WC contender will be less concerned about how the #1 WC contending team finishes and more concerned about the #3 contender.

    An advantage for the #1 WC team vs #2 an #3 is that once #1 is assured of either a #1 or #2 finish, they can manipulate their starting pitchers to determine who pitches the WC playoff game, while #2 and #3 are still in a battle with each other to finish with a higher record (what's the tiebreaker if they tie for the 2nd WC?).
    The disadvantage for both WC teams is if they used the best starter for this one game, they can't start the next round with him. That disadvantage would not exist under the current system if the WC happened to clinch before the last week (which didn't happen this year).

  3. Every possible playoff scenario has its good sides and bad sides. Each one could make or unmake "pennant races" in a given year, depending on how seasons play out in each league. The idea is to come up with the one that presents the most fairness to the best teams.

    Having said that, the more teams invited to the playoffs, the more likely you will get teams closer to .500. Once in the playoffs, anything can happen. If you don't want teams with marginal records, then don't invite them - limit the playoffs. If you don't want to dance with ugly girls, then don't invite them to the ball.

  4. You know, the thing about baseball is that it want to maximize viewership and excitement in the postseason. Frankly, I think part of the problem is that, after a really, really long season that casual fans can't follow every day, the postseason drags it out even longer. I think if the move is to gain gate revenue, obviously adding games succeeds. But if it's to generate excitement and gain fans watching the World Series, it's bound to fail, because casual fans can't sustain interest baseball that long, especially when it's butting up against the NFL season.

  5. Play-ins — ugh. Games with a "playoff atmosphere" that allow Selig to claim he hasn't expanded the playoffs.

  6. I like that it gives a substantial advantage to division winners. Most increases in the number of playoff teams decrease the importance of the regular season races, but this change actually does the opposite.

  7. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    I can see both good and bad in this. It would add fan interest; but where does it end? When I was a kid, the season ended on September 30, period. Then came expansion to bring us into October for league championships. By the late 'Nineties, we were looking at the first MLB games played {gasp!} in November! So now what? Santa riding his sleigh with the Phillie Phanatic next to him???

  8. Totally manufactured so by August everyone cant say the Red Sox Yankees games don't matter since they are both going to the playoffs anyways, and after all that panicking and quick reaction we now see Boston playing in NY with everything on the line this weekend. As usual another sport, with a complete monopoly on the their sport, whores itself out to try to raise the TV rating a little bit and make a little more money.

    Fix the real problem, get a salary cap. PERIOD.

    Just like how the Big Ten screwed everything up solely for the reason of trying to manufacture a OSU-Mich Big Ten championship game (among the many, many ways college football is selling out)


    There are many reasons why this works.

    1. The winner of the one-game playoff is severely weakened by most likely using their ace either in game 162, or the playoff game.
    2. It is now more advantageous to be the #1 seed and to win your division
    3. Because of #2, pennant races will matter again vs. just taking the wild card
    4. One-game playoffs are exciting to watch

  10. #1, I agree, a one and done is ridiculous.

    #8, I don't object a salary cap, but do you realize there will have to be a salary floor, let's guesstimate and say the floor and cap is from $70 million to $140 million. Currently 10 MLB teams have a payroll of under $70 million and only 3 MLB teams have a payroll of $140 million. While you are making a few big money teams spend less, you are also making many low payroll teams spend more. Do you think the owner of the Pirates, Marlins etc. will want to make their payrolls go from about $35 million to $70 million?

  11. Go back to 162 games and 2 pennant winners. Sure, the Yankees would have won 8 of the last 16, but 1 was a tie, and 2 others only had 1-game leads, so you'd have plenty to play for down the stretch. And in 2000, they actually finished 5th, but got a WS anyway.

    And everyone forgets the playoffs are boring, save for a handful of slo-mo moments. In the NL wildcard era, the series winners are 160-47. While the fox pregame may try to generate fuzzy memories of nailbiting oct-TOE-ber, this suggests your memories may have been manipulated and the "average" series is 3.4 to 1. Just 9 of 48 went the max, and in the last 4 years, only 1 of 12 losers even won 2 games (last year's NLCS).

    The WS hasn't been terribly exciting for close to a decade, only 2 of 9 even went 6 games. Just 1 of the last 20 divisional series (both leagues) saw a game 5.

    I got these numbers by eyeballing the postseason summary screen, so someone please verify before emailing Bud

  12. @10, they also need complete revenue sharing; all TV, radio,, internet etc etc money/30 to every team. Then the Pads and Fish wouldn't mind spending with the "big boys"

    When the Yankees win 100 games and the Red Sox 98, but the sawks lose a 1 game playoff to a 86 win Twin team there will be much outrage over this and they will probably get rid of it.

  13. This is a good thing, and I agree with all of #9 and #6. I don't understand why "one and done" is ridiculous. Would a team that would otherwise be sitting at home (and the fans of that team) prefer to have no chance at all? A play-in will add excitement, keep more fans interested in the season for a longer time, and, importantly, give the division leaders a more appropriate advantage than they have now. A Rays-Red Sox one game play-in this year would get good ratings. Can that be bad for anyone who cares about baseball?

    Yes, a play-in would lengthen the season as the WC has. Being someone who loves baseball, I, of course, hate having to watch even more exciting games. In fact, I say, get rid of the divisions and WC entirely, go back to a 154 game season, and let the AL best play the NL best in the World Series like the old days. That way, fans of most teams could forget about baseball in time for NFL training camp and back-to-school shopping.

    Aren't salary caps inherently Un-American? It would be a shame if our National Pastime were no longer operating as a free market. Most, if not all, owners would love a cap. A cap won't reduce the amount of money coming into the system nor would it eliminate policy changes designed to increase revenue (@8 i.e. "whores itself out to try to raise the TV rating a little bit and make a little more money"). A cap only redistributes money, primarily away from the players and toward the owners. Like you or I, why shouldn't players earn whatever the market will pay them?

  14. #13, let me give you an example. I"ll make up some standings and you tell me if this is fair

    AL East
    1- Yankees 100-62
    2- Red Sox 99-63 (Wild card winnder)
    3- Rays (2nd wild card winner) 91-71

    Red Sox and Rays play the 1 game playoff, Rays win, Red Sox stay home. Do you consider that fair to the Red Sox? The Red Sox even if they lose the 1 game playoff go 99-64 and the Rays go 92-71. Is it fair that a 3rd place team in 1 division advances to the Playoffs over the 2nd place team when 8 games separate them? (7 after the 1 game).

  15. A system more fair than a salary cap even:

    1. Pay every player exactly whatever the President of the United States makes.
    2. Assign all players, by position, to a new team every year using a random lottery.
    3. Rotate the teams from city to city every year (e.g. next year, Seattle will get to have the Yankees).

    At the same time, it is not really fair that only the most talented people get to play pro ball, so maybe the players should just get picked randomly from the general population.

  16. This is almost as stupid (if not more) than what Syracuse and Pitt did to break my heart.

  17. @13, baseball is not a "free market", there is no competition, MLB has a monopoly on baseball which goes against the basic principles of capitalism. The Yankees do not have more money because they offer a better product or have more innovative products or have better people running their organization. They have more money because more people in New York City than any other city.

    Also, in reality, the fan does not just pick and choose whatever team they want, that is for kids and fair weather fans. Real fans choose a team they have an allegiance to, maybe inherited from their father or just the home team. The Royals can lower ticket prices as much as they want but they wont get new customers from New York. The Yankees can win as much as they can afford but they wont get any new customers from Kansas City.

    @14, how can the Sox complain if they lost the game, too bad so sad. At least they control their own destiny.

    I do think this plan is pretty good and has more positives than negatives, but its a poor attempt to fix the real problem.

  18. @ 13 it always seems unfair to the loser when an underdog wins a playoff series. It doesn't matter if it is a one-game playoff or a seven. This is particularly true in sports with longer regular seasons. I have no problem with the fairness of a one game play-in nor would I have a problem with a seven game play-in series. In fact, if your goal is to have the best team always win (and as we are constrained by time/weather) the sport would be better served to have longer series at the beginning of the playoffs and a shorter World Series.

    I would be happier if everyone just paid a lot more attention to the regular season and recognized the playoffs for what they are: a crap shoot. Let more teams in, let fewer in, there is still much more of an element of luck (for lack of a better word) in the playoffs than in the regular season--so much so as to really make it a different sport.

  19. @15

    1) Justin Verlander might have to borrow a quote from the Babe

    "I know, but I had a better year than (President Herbert) Hoover." - 1930 Babe Ruth's response to his salary of $80,000 being more than the President's $75,000

  20. @16 exactly, NCAA has a monopoly over college football, even though the fans pay for everything they have 0% say in anything (like all major sports, complete opposite of the free market) because of the monopoly, so teams/schools do WHATEVER makes them the most money and NEVER what the fans want most.

  21. @17 a salary cap would make the elements of baseball you consider to be monopolistic more monopolistic, not less.

    I don't really understand the point you are trying to make in paragraph two.

  22. My point is that not only does MLB have no competition for baseball, in reality the teams do not compete with each other (for fans). MLB is nothing like a free market. How would a salary cap make it more monopolistic? A salary cap is like an anti-trust law.

    Right now there is literally nothing the Royals could do to have more money than the Yankees. If the Royals pulled the economic equivalent of inventing the internet on the baseball field (like going 150-12), they would still not have more money than the Yankees. So if the Yankees have all this money but could not use it to gain an unfair advantage over the Royals (buying all the best players) that would make things more fair.

  23. @17, I'm gonna have to disagree with you. The Yankees DO have more money because they DO have a superior product. 27 World Series means better teams = better baseball = better product. If your argument about residents is accurate then the Mets should make as much as the Yankees, followed by the Angels & Dodgers.

    As for competition, baseball is competing with every other entertainment dollar out there: football, hockey, NASCAR, movies, etc. If Joe Average decides to drop $20 to see a Royals game, the Royals have beat out every other entertainment organization in Kansas City for his dollar.

  24. Spending the most money doesn't mean you are guaranteed success, just ask us Mets fans. I hate the Yankees but for the most part they spend their money on the right players. Tampa doesn't have a huge budget but they have been constant in the competition the past 4 seasons. The Rays were 29th in total payroll this season The Cubs,Mets, and Twins all in the top 10 in payroll to be slugs in the standings this season.

  25. masternachos Says:

    I don't really get how, say, a 2nd Wild Card team with 89 wins beating a 1st Wild Card with 100 wins is any less fair than a 95-win division winner beating a 116-win division winner...

  26. The 1 game WC playoff is just another gimmick. It's like adding a garnish to a hamburger and trying to convince someone they are now eating filet mignon.

  27. It's easy to say this because I'm a Yankee fan. Topper, the Yankees spend money to make money, which is what a lot of businesses do. They built a new stadium, they took on debt, they charge high prices, and they plow the cash flow back into the team. I agree KC can't do that. But, in all honesty, if MLB wants complete revenue sharing, then I want the same ticket prices and cable fees as KC-you will still be plus because, as you correctly point out, NY is a larger market. And I'm going to expect that teams who receive dollars spend them on the field-not in the owner's pockets, because it's inherently unfair for my ticket dollar to go to the bottom line of any other franchise. That's never going to happen, because just as much as the players want to make the big bucks, the owners have no intention of destroying either their franchise values, or being told how to spend the bucks that come in.
    The system has real flaws-we don't have to argue about that. But total revenue sharing and hard salary caps won't do it.

  28. If they played in a 3 game series or 5 game series instead, I'd understand more. A one game playoff should be for Tiebreakers only. No problem with that of course.

    If they want to do it in a series, that's fine.

    But it will be very awkward if let's say the 2 wild card teams both lock the wild card spots a week in advance, that means the season only coems down to 1 game for 2 of these teams and their records could be several games apart (as the post that I mentioned in #13). What's the point of having the other games if it's only going to come down to 1 game.

    #95, it's completely different because it's a different division, you play different teams a majority of the season. Rays, Yankees and Red Sox play the same teams except in interleague.

    I gave an example, why should it all come down to ONE game.

    Suppose the Rays and Red Sox locked up the 2 wild card slots a week before the season ended. What good does the remaning games in the season mean if they only the final game game is the one that's important to them?

    Again, if it's a Series, I'd be fine with that.

  29. I much rather they shorten the length of the season, not the number of games but just the length. They could start at the beginning of April and be done possibly by the end of August because 99% of there TV audience is leaving for college football by that time. Start the playoffs in September and have the world series end the first week of October. They just need to schedule doubleheaders every Wednesday or something, I don't know, I think that is a much bigger problem then playoff expansion.

  30. @23, the Yankees may have a "better" product, but that is NOT why they have the most money. They have the most money because they have the most fans and get the most ESPN coverage. They have these fans, at least the vast majority, because they are the oldest team in the biggest city. They are not the only team that builds a new stadium, take on debt and spend their back on the team. Most teams do this. The reason the Yankees charge higher prices is because they have a higher demand for tickets, NOT because they offer a better product but because they have more fans. More people trying to get the same thing = higher demand = prices go up. If the Royals went 150-12 they could not charge as much as the Yankees do for playoff tickets.

    Who here is a Yankee fan because they "offer a better product"?

    Who here is a Yankees fan because they live in New York or their dad was a Yankee fan? And if you are a bandwagon Yankee fan who just randomly picked the winning team but you live in Milwaukee, how much money do you give back to the Yankees?

  31. I'd like to see the "collective" or the owners vote for some real money from these gigantic TV contracts to go to the playoffs. Neither the players or the owners make much extra per game while making a playoff run.

    Alex Rodriguez is the easy example. The Yankees went 11-4 to win the 2009
    World Series. Winners share =$365,052 or $24,336 per game.

    He was paid $33 million for the regular season or $203,703 per game whether he played or not. They usually have to be playing to make the playoff roster.

    Paid less for eight playoff games than one regular season game.

  32. #30., I'm a Yankee fan because I live in NY. I assure you if I did not live in NY (or the Tri-State area), I wouldn't be a Yankee fan. I root for NY sports teams (not all of them of course), but basically I do not root for out of state teams

  33. #29, I wouldn't have a problem with that, but MLB would lose money if they shorten the season.

  34. @32 thanks for the response, I assume you are in the large majority of people with the same outlook.

  35. If MLB was a free market, teams would have the right to move wherever they want and there wouldn't be static divisions. There'd be four or five teams in the NYC area, because the market's not even close to saturated with two.

  36. This is a bad idea. Having a one game playoff aftter playing 162 games
    to qualify is insane.

    If MLB chooses to add playoff teams it needs to be a five game series.

    To do this they need to shorten the season. Owners will never agree to
    shorten the season and lose revenue.

    This really is a stupid idea.

    We shouldn't be surprised.

    This is the same MLB leadership that thought it was a good idea to
    have the All-Star Game determine home field for the WS.

    What can we expect from someone as reactive as Bud Lite?

  37. SocraticGadfly Says:

    I hate the idea. Personally, I prefer Costas' idea. Get rid of the WC we have now, and give the best division champ a first-round bye.

    Or, go back to two divisions in each league, with two WCs, but both WCs can come from the same division.

  38. I can live with it, but I would still prefer the traditional pennant system. Anything to incentivize finishing first is acceptable, I suppose.

  39. NO. It further cheapens the regular season, which is necessary to ensure that mediocre teams do not qualify- because, as others have noted here before, the best team does not always win the WS. This is true in all sports to some degree, but, due to the nature of the game of baseball, anything can happen on a day to day basis. (Didn't Houston sweep a series this year?)
    I am a big NBA fan, and yet I'll be damned if I watch it at all during the regular season. Nice, MLB. Way to shoot yourself in the head, AGAIN.

    Repeating myself here, sorry. but if baseball insists on more playoff rounds so badly, then I like the idea someone had, awhile back- (after, in my opinion, consolidation into maybe 4 larger divisions) at the start of every month, all teams start over at 0-0, and, at the end of every month, crown a monthly division champion. At the end of the year, all of these division champions are seeded by (total) regular season record, and there is a "Tournament Of Champions". Sure, there are issues that would have to be worked out with this (winners of multiple rounds receiving which byes, assuring balanced regular season scheduling, for starters) but these are all solvable. Macro view, this format delivers more playoff teams (to a wider spectrum of markets! Kansas City, for example is now competing), while actually INCREASING the value of the regular season.
    This is a far better plan, than MLB's plan, IMHO.

  40. @34, I don't think anyone doubts that most team loyalties are geographically based. Let me put something on the table for people. The core of the small market argument remains that the big bucks teams can out spend them, and the small markets want greater "parity". But, how do you accomplish that without taking large chunks of cash-and therefore value-from the large market teams? This isn't just about the Yankees. It also includes the Phillies, the Red Sox, both Chicago teams, (theoretically) Los Angeles, etc. You could go further to find others like the Twins, who were given a big taxpayer funded stadium, and now spend big. Go to any high grossing team and tell them they have to share every dollar they bring in with all 31 other teams. You instantly destroy a major portion of the equity value of those teams. What's the present value of, say $40 Million a year in excess cash flow? It's very large-a half billion wouldn't be too much. So, great capitalists that we all are, what right do we have to go to any team and destroy that much value?
    Like it or not, while baseball may be a hobby or even a passion for us, it's a business. You can fantasize about cutting the Yankees down to size, but you better figure out how to buy out the Steinbrenners, because otherwise you are stealing.

  41. Simon Oliver Lockwood Says:

    I would like a three game playoff for the Wild Card teams but with a twist. The playoff series would be over two days with games 2 and (if necessary) 3 being on the same day as a day-night doubleheader. The team with the best regular season record would be the home team for the entire series.

  42. @40, no one is complaining in the NFL.

    The Packers can keep any player they want to. The Brewers will not have Prince Fielder next year for 1 reason.

    As 35 noted, the Yankees do not even deserve all the money they have so it wouldn't be stealing. What the Yankees have is essentially a law equivalent to saying only Walmart and Target can sell TVs in the city of New York, no one else is allowed to no matter what. So if the government taxed them way more on their TV sales they would still come out on top and it would not be an unfair tax on them.

  43. @42 How about we just dissolve the Yankees? After that, then the Red Sox, Phillies, etc?

    And, the NFL isn't true revenue sharing (ask Jerry Jones and the rest of the owners, and you can find out just how much locally generated revenue they keep).

    If your thesis were correct-if the NFL were the ideal of competitive and economic parity-then franchise values should all be equal. See the link to Forbes latest revenue and valuation statements

    What you should be noting is that the Cowboys have a value of $1.85 Billion, with revenue of $406 Million. They also have operating income of $119 million. Go to eight on the list-Packers-their "slash line" is 1.089/259/12. 17th, the 49r's (990/235/1.5). 25-Bengals, who don't put money into the team (875/236/44.7). Last, the Rams (775/235/24.6).

    Those are huge differences-even with all that supposed "parity". And note that it's not only the Bengals who pocket other team's money instead of spending on the field. #29, the Bills, operating income of $40.9 Million
    Cardinals, #24, operating income of $56.4 million-the third most profitable team in the NFL. And where did the Bengals, Bills and Cardinals end up last year, while they were raking it in? Bills, 4-12, last in the AFC East; Bengals, 4-12, last in the AFC North, Cardinals, 5-11, last in the NFC West. For good measure, the Carolina Panthers-the lousiest team in the league, 2-14, they did just fine for themselves $31.2 Million in operating income.

  44. I don't care about anything from the owner's perspective, I just want every team to have the same chance to keep their own players and sign free agents and sign their draft picks. The best free agents available are not limited to the richest teams, and the poorest teams can keep their studs.

    The teams spending the most on players this year are the
    1) Vikings (28th in operating income)
    2) Lions (32nd)
    3) Rams (22nd)
    4) Falcons (19th)
    5) Eagles (15th)

    In baseball it is always the same teams with the highest payrolls...and they are WAY bigger than some other teams.

    The Patriots get to keep Tom Brady as long as they want him, the Red Sox get to keep Dustin Pedroia as long as they want him, the Packers get to keep Aaron Rodgers as long as they want him, the Brewers do not get to keep Prince Fielder as long as they want him.

  45. #17: True, there are more people in NY. (Also, there are more RICH people in NY). But the real dynamic here is that gobs of people living in a dense concentration only have 2 local teams to choose from. The NY economic base could easily support a third team, maybe even a fourth. But why would the Mets & Yankees ever let that thought be expressed when they have so much to lose? I could be wrong, but I think they would both have veto power over any new entrants, under the current arrangement, so it would be pointless to ever suggest the topic to MLB. There will have to be a ground swell of concern among the other owners upset that the megabuck franchises can easily pay the salary cap penalty with no sweat and still drive the price of premier players far beyond the reach of most clubs. As soon as New York has enough local competition to drive the profit level per team to a reasonable level, we will all have a far more level playing field.

  46. And the contracts for NFL players are one-sided towards ownership. Multi-year contracts do not exist from the football player's side-they are bound to the team for the length of the contract, but ownership can dump them whenever they want. And even football contracts don't have a reserve clause-eventually the players become free agents, irrespective of the team's wishes. These are two different sports with entirely different financial approaches and just one focal point-a lot of money is made by ownership.

    Prince Fielder is not going to the Yankees. He's also not going to the Red Sox or the Phillies. Prince Fielder can go anywhere he wants to, just like you or I can work for anyone who will have us. That's fair. Yes, there are inequities in baseball, and I don't pretend to have a solution for them. But the football model isn't perfect either, the reserve clause has been dead since the 70's, and slavery was abolished under the 13th Amendment.

  47. @45, Ken-NY had three teams-two of them moved away. If the purpose of putting a third team into New York is to just hurt the Yankees economically, doesn't that reduce the amount they will pay in revenue sharing and ultimately luxury tax? Why not a second team in Boston-they used to have two as well? How about Philly-the A's played there.

  48. I don't care where Prince Fielder goes, but it wont be Milwaukee. That is a problem and needs to be fixed and adding another team to the playoffs does not fix that problem.

    Here is the point, in the NFL the Bucs will keep Josh Freeman as long as they want him. Yes he will be a free agent, but in reality he will play anywhere that pays him the most and the Bucs will be able to match any other teams offer if they want to. The Rays could not do the same with Carl Crawford. The Royals will not be able to keep this young core group they have coming up 6 years from now, the Yankees could.

    I did not say get rid of free agency, I said fix an inherently unfair system fair. There is no such thing as an entire NFL fan base worrying that this year is the last year with their stud player because they will lose him to a richer team next year no matter what.

  49. @48,the Bucs can match for Josh Freeman not only because they get more revenue sharing, but because there is a salary cap. And they can match for Josh Freeman because they don't have to honor multiyear contracts they have made with other players. You want a different baseball system-one that controls the players and punishes the Yankees.
    Not to be crass, but if MLB is going to strip the Yankees of all extra revenues above what the Brewers can bring in, then there is no point in them making those revenues. Like I said before, let them drop their ticket charges. Yankees have drawn 3.5 million, the Brewers 2.8 million. I propose the Yankees charge 80 percent of what the Brewers charge for tickets, beer, parking, etc. Let's put all the fans on a level playing field.

  50. 8 teams is already too many. I get more and more disillusioned with American sports leagues every year.

  51. Terrible idea. Change the ALDS to 7 and leave it alone. 162 games is enough of a sample size. This isn't the NBA, NFL or the NHL and it shouldn't be.

  52. On the notion of adding teams in NYC and other big cities (and with apologies for not having read most of this thread) --

    That won't work. Yes, NYC has the population to support 3 teams again. But the 3-team setup grew organically from the very dawn of the leagues. Now that loyalties are well established, you can't just plop another team in and expect fans to change sides just because it would be good for MLB in the long run. At best, it would take a generation for a new team to take hold.

    The expansion Mets succeeded financially because they inherited the NL fans abandoned by the Dodgers and Giants. Who would watch a new club? I'm sure the Yankees wouldn't lose 2 percent of their fan base; and Mets fans, while bitter, are loyal, too. The last thing MLB needs is something like the Knicks/Nets situation; even when the Nets were good (2 straight NBA Finals, 6 straight playoffs) and the Knicks weren't, Madison Square Garden was packed and the Nets' arena was half-empty except the later playoff rounds.

  53. I think that it is attempting to fix a problem the wrong way around.

    "Best teams" in playoffs are not necessarily the best teams during a season. What it takes to get through 162 games is different from a series of knockouts.

    If we want to see the best NL and AL teams play to determine the "World Champ" then we take the teams who win at 162. This year Phillies and Yanks. And I personally don't see anything wrong with that.

    If there are issues around these two big spenders being the only two ever in the World Series, then that is a different problem.

    If we want playoff ball, then have a post-season tournament that is designed that way. Say four pools of four teams (top 8 NL and AL) and run them through a set of one-game qualifiers. Top two from each team then go into a one-game quarter final. Then a double-header semi. Then a double header final. Tah-dah! Play the qualifiers as mixed double headers and you are done and dusted in under 2 weeks. Call the thing something like "Champion of the World Cup" and the sponsors will be drooling in their oatmeal.

  54. I think it's great, although I need to see full details.

    This will create greater interest by adding in another Wild Card team, and also great tremendous interest in an exciting one-game playoff to advance. More importantly, it will restore importance and value to winning the division over a 162-game schedule. No team's preference would be to roll the dice in a one game playoff, so it's better to plan for, fight for, and win the division. The one-game playoff teams will also most likely end up using their best pitcher for the one-game playoff (unless he needs to start the final game of the season just to qualify for the playoffs), also further putting value in winning the division.

    I see no downside here.

  55. I like this more than the current setup, by a good margin. My reasons have been pretty well covered by others here - primarily, it gives an incentive to win the division rather than the wild card. Since the wild card was introduced, I've felt that wild card teams are on too even a playing field, so to speak, with division winners. This fixes that. I'm definitely for it.

  56. @52, John A. I think the intention of the posters in adding a third team to the NY area to act as a drag on the Yankees' profitability. Make less money, spend less money. It has much less to do with the viability of the third team or the two existing ones. There's an inherent fallacy built in here-we already have a system that is designed to punish the Yankees (called revenue sharing and luxury tax). You could vaporize the Yankees tomorrow-it's not going to create more revenue for the remaining teams (it's actually going to create less). So, the real target has to be payroll. Take the Yankees entirely out of the equation and salaries will moderate. But how much? The Yankees aren't the only team spending big. Prince Fielder (or another player at a position the Yankees actually need) isn't going to go from making $150 million to $15 million. That is magical thinking.

  57. I don't like it. I don't wanna see baseball become like the NHL, where they let half the teams into the playoffs, turn the regular season into a waste of time, and wind up with teams with mediocre records playing in the finals and sometimes winning. The NFL is different because they don't play 162 games. When you play that many games, it ought to be worth something.

  58. The Red Sox, Rays and Angels are going down to the wire. Pretty exciting, isn't it? Three teams battling for one playoff spot!

    Of course, with this proposed new system in place, all they'd be battling for is a single play-in game, and two of them would be guaranteed a spot in it. The Red Sox would be panicking less, because they'd know they only need to outrun the Angels right now.

    I've had mixed feelings about Bud Selig for most of his tenure, but this move definitely puts me closer to the "hate" end of the spectrum.

  59. Count me in favor of a system with 2 wild cards per league and a 1-game play-in.

    It's true, as Ian notes @58, that such a format will sometimes reduce stretch-run excitement, not enhance it. But that is true of any format. There were seasons when the 2-division format made less of a pennant race than would have existed without divisions.

    No playoff format can come close to perfectly balancing the opposing goals of rewarding the best teams while fostering hope and excitement for second-tier clubs. The playoff format should not be the primary means of addressing revenue imbalance, but unless and until more is done in that regard, it's appropriate for that issue to be part of the rationale of the playoff format.

    Adding a wild card is a small step in addressing the problem of having 2 revenue giants in the AL East.

    And by toughening the wild cards' path to advancement, the one-game play-in would partly address the problem of when two competitors for one division title are almost indifferent as to who wins.

    What's more, the play-in will reduce the winner's chances in the first full series, since their best pitcher may not be available until mid-series. I'm in favor of that; I think the DS should be a tougher challenge for the WC than it has been so far. The lack of home-field advantage is not enough of a hindrance.

    Again, any change in the format will sometimes have unintended consequences. But I think this one is worth a try.

  60. @59, I'd go with John A's suggestion. One of the things I truly dislike about the current system is that it puts the wild card teams at parity with the division winners. And, with regard to the Yankees/Red Sox, the idea that an entire season can be blown up because CC or Lester just doesn't have it in the one game playoff may force them to focus even more on the regular season. BTW, there's another way to enhance local revenues, which is to bring the overall schedule more into balance. The Texas Death Match that goes on in the AL East obscures a larger fact, which is that the big market teams draw on the road. I'd cut down on inter-league play (or even eliminate it), and instead have more parity in scheduling-that brings more revenue to the small market teams, and creates a more even playing field when you sort out the wild card spots.

  61. Play all 29 opponents 6 times. 3 at home, 3 on the road. 174 games. Best record is the champion. No need for playoffs.

  62. SocraticGadfly Says:

    Uggh, on JA, especially the 1-game play-in. If you're going to have a 2nd WC, at least reduce the luck factor by going 2-of-3.

  63. One misconception that crops up in these conversations is "what a team CAN spend." In the vast majority of cases, teams will spend whatever it's PROFITABLE for them to spend, not what they can. If the Yankees could make some large amoung of money finishing last and an extra $100M by finishing first, and the Royals can make some small amount of money by finishing last and an extra $100M by finishing first, then you can bet they'll both try just as hard to finish first. It doesn't matter (in that case) that the Yankees make more money.

    But when they Yankees' bonus for finishing first is greater than the Royals' bonus, that's when you get sustained imbalances. Now, if you look only at the Yankees, it sure looks like it is indeed a problem. But if you look at all the large3 market teams and all the teams that actually are in small markets (not just the lousy teams that TALK about being in a small market) it looks like there is a difference, but no so big a difference. The Yankees have been unusually successful in establishing an international brand and spending to maintain it. That wasn't always the case. In the early 1970s, when the Mets and Yankees were of about equal quality and the Yankees had a much richer history, it was actually the Mets who were far more popular in the New York area, and neither of them made much money by being popular elsewhere.

    It's also not necessarily bad that large market teams have somewhat of an advantage, so long as that advantage isn't too big. They serve more fans. But when it gets to the point that small market teams are dismal year after year not because of bad management but because good financial management says they should let their teams languish, then all of MLB and its fans suffer. But I don't think that's where we actually are. I think the teams that are nearly always bad are making a strategic mistake (under-investing) and/or or just bad at making baseball decisions.

  64. This is ridiculous. What is MLB trying to accomplish by this? Why not just increase the LDS to 7 games like it should be?

  65. 2 out of three would give the division winners more of a chance to get cold. To me, anything that lets more teams into the playoffs is at least partly negative, but this is the best way they could possibly do it. Too much luck? Unfair to the best wildcard? Well, boo f-ing hoo. Win your damned division or stop complaining. Wildcard 'winners' should be glad they get to keep playing at all, luck or no luck.

  66. @64: MLB is trying increase fan interest in 2 more cities.They already have
    an LDS.

  67. @62, Socratic Gadfly -- A best-of-3 WC play-in would delay the rest of the playoffs by at least 3 days (since MLB insists that the dates of all rounds be fixed in advance).

    If they add a "travel day" (which the union might demand), that's 4 days -- not only too much delay for my taste (not to mention pushing the World Series further into sometimes wintry weather conditions), but also enough time to get the WC winner's ace back on schedule to start game 1 of the DS (on 3 days' rest) or game 2 (on full rest).

    The luck factor doesn't bother me. Right now, if 2 teams finish the regular season tied for a playoff spot that only 1 can get, they play a 1-game tiebreaker. I'm sure that's unfair in some respects, but we're balancing different interests -- one of which is, let's get on with it, already!

  68. One major problem is the possibility of a tie for a division and a wild card slot. For example, the Red Sox and Yankees finish 99-63, tied for the #1 division winner and #1 wild card. The Tigers finish 95-67, taking the #2 wild card. The problem is that there would either be:

    1) a one-game playoff for the division, with the loser hosting the Tigers. This gives both the Red Sox and Yankees a 75% chance of making the ALDS and the Tigers a 50% chance, as it should be, but results in the loss of a travel day for the winner.

    2) a head-to-head for the division and a one-game playoff for the wild card. This gives the H2H winner 100%, the H2H loser 50%, and the Tigers 50%. Obviously, this wouldn't work because the tied teams should have the same chance of making the ALDS.

    3) a version of the 1998-present tiebreak, excluding the Tigers completely. Absolutely not.