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MLB has allowed only one off day between the end of the 2012 regular season and the new wild-card play-in games. What happens if they need to break ties?
A lot of people like the idea of adding one Wild Card in each league, with a one-game, winner-take-all first round in the postseason. SI.com's Joe Sheehan is not one of those people.
Reminder: When Bud Selig became the chairman of the Executive Council of Major League Baseball in 1992, he was never supposed to be the permanent commissioner. The owners spent six years looking (or pretending to look) for an ostensible replacement before voting Selig into office.
When you consider that, it's amazing to think about all of the changes in baseball that Selig has been responsible for over the past two decades. And there's no denying that the game is healthy financially -- there's a reason the dude gets $22 million per year and a private jet. Matthew Callan of the Classical, though, isn't impressed with the new changes:
MLB saw three seasons in a row end with one-game playoffs (2007-2009) and 2011’s playoff teams were not determined until the very last minutes of the season. Taking notice of the buzz—and ratings—this generated, Selig seeks to institutionalize the phenomenon. It’s almost akin to mandating that each game end on an unassisted triple play. Something exceptionally rare and thrilling will become a legislated part of baseball’s everyday landscape.
Callan openly wonders why the commish can get more wild cards jammed into a single offseason, but the league has been flirting with expanded instant replay for four seasons without a lot of progress. Then he answers his own question: money. Instant replay doesn't sell tickets or ad space. There could be some new replay rules coming with the new CBA, but you can bet that they won't be enacted as quickly as the additional playoff spots were.
You're pretty sure adding two more wild cards will lead to the ruination of baseball. Here's why you're likely wrong.
When the rumors started to swirl about the basic components of the new playoff format -- one extra wild-card team for a one-game play-in -- the open question had to do with how ties would be handled.
For one example, the 2006 National League playoff race would have been a mess. The Dodgers and Padres tied for the NL West title with 88 wins. Would they have had a one-game playoff to see who had to play the one-game playoff, or would they have had to flip a coin to decide the division winner?
According to Jon Heyman, it looks like a tie will be settled by a one-game playoff to get to the one-game playoff:
word is, no one wins a division on a tiebreaker/coin flip. there will be a playoff for that, too.
It's preferable to a coin flip, for sure. But a succession of one-game playoffs is still a rough way to miss the playoffs. The silver lining: more baseball. So it can't be that bad of a thing.
It is our reality now: henceforth every MLB postseason will feature ten teams, instead of eight. At least, they'll feature ten teams until they feature more than ten teams, which seems like an eventual inevitability. When does expansion become too much expansion? I don't know, and more expansion probably means more money.
Anyway, forget about the future and focus on the present. Some more details are coming out, and here are two of them:
The wild-card winner, barring a tie-breaker to get in, will have off-day before the one-game playoff, and an off-day following playoff. #MLB— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 2, 2012
Under new playoff format, teams from the same division will be able to play each other in the Division Series, Michael Weiner confirms.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) March 2, 2012
The second one is probably the bigger deal, although neither is too big of a deal. No longer will teams from the same division be blocked from facing one another in the first (second?) round. I don't see anything objectionable there. Good work, suits.
Playoff expansion from eight to ten teams was inevitable. It was definitely going to be in place by 2013. There were efforts to get it in place for 2012. Successful efforts, as it turns out. Though in theory Thursday was the deadline for an agreement to be reached, Major League Baseball officially announced on Friday that the 2012 postseason field will include ten teams, with two additional wild-card slots.
Part of the press release:
For the 2012 Postseason only, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds. This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to a decisive Game Five of the Division Series and was necessary because the 2012 regular season schedule was announced before the agreement on the new Postseason was reached. Next year, the Division Series will return to the 2-2-1 format used in previous years. Details on the scheduling of the new elimination games between each League's Wild Cards will be announced in the near future.
Scheduling was the big issue, as the 2012 schedule has long been set in stone. For this year and this year only, Division Series will be played in the 2-3 format, instead of the 2-2-1 format, (as reported by Amy K. Nelson and SB Nation first). The lower seed will begin with two games at home, and then the higher seed will end with three games at home. This change was made so as to eliminate a travel day. Baseball's gone with the 2-3 DS format before; personally, I'll never forget the 1995 ALDS between the Yankees and the Mariners.
Each league's two wild card teams will square off in a one-game playoff. The winner will advance and the loser will go home, as you do when you lose in the playoffs. I'm not entirely sure why there was such a sense of urgency here since the leagues are still unbalanced, but we've known for some time that this was coming.
NEW YORK –- With Major League Baseball set to add another wild card to its postseason – perhaps with an announcement as early as today – it's possible that because of inadequate time to fix the schedule, division winners could be forced to open the playoffs on the road, SB Nation has learned.
The addition of another wild card team will create a play-in game between the two wild cards, but because the 2012 regular season schedule was made prior to this proposed addition, there may not be enough days built in for travel. Therefore, if MLB cannot find a resolution, the current 2-2-1 format would change to 2-3, with the division winners opening away from their respective home ballparks.
Both the players' union and MLB are still finalizing discussions, but a source told SB Nation that the 2-3 format has already been agreed upon if there is no way to keep the 2-2-1 format. The change will only be in place for the 2012 postseason, because the schedule had already been finalized before the discussion of adding wild card teams happened; that obviously will not be the case in 2013. Next year also should be easier overall on the schedule makers since it's expected that a National League team is expected to move to the A.L. next season.
Spokespeople for MLB and the MLBPA could not be reached.
We're still here, and we're still talking about MLB's proposed playoff expansion from eight to ten teams. We've known for some time that there are going to be ten playoff teams in 2013. Getting that all set up for 2012 is a different animal.
Based on recent reports, it looks like a virtual certainty. One complication is that there was supposed to be a March 1 deadline to reach an agreement. According to sources, though, the consensus attitude is "whatever".
Negotiators for baseball players and owners say there is no set deadline for an agreement to expand the playoffs to 10 teams this season.
But in recent days both sides said negotiations would continue beyond Thursday if they needed time. The sides spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the talks have not been public.
It's possible that an agreement could be reached today. But if not, it's not a big deal, because the deadline isn't a deadline. There does exist some deadline, since these negotiations obviously can't continue into the season, but March 1 was kind of arbitrary and so nobody involved is stressing out about it. The deadline for an agreement is "soon". As time passes, it becomes "more soon".
They should agree any day now. Assume ten playoff teams.
Minutes ago, we shared a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, saying that MLB adding two new wild card slots in 2012 was a "go". Now we're going to pull back just a tiny little bit:
Told agreement on expanded playoffs isn't final, but will happen. Same thing on announcement. Not certain for tomorrow, but possible. #MLB— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 29, 2012
Momentum for expanded playoff is there. Its buds baby so hard to see it not happening. But have not heard there's a deal for it yet— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 29, 2012
Let's face it: it's probably just a matter of time. Ken Rosenthal says it's basically guaranteed. Jon Heyman doesn't go that far, but suggests he'd be surprised if an agreement isn't reached. Barring some complete and utter surprise, there are going to be ten playoff baseball teams in 2012. We're just waiting on MLB to realize it.
In case you don't remember, the two wild cards in each league would play a one-game playoff, with the winner advancing to the division series and the loser returning home and wondering what just happened.
We've pretty much known for a while that Major League Baseball was going to increase the playoff pool from eight to ten teams. The only question was whether they would introduce two new wild card slots in 2012, or in 2013. There was a desire to get things done for 2012, but matters were complicated by the fact that the 2012 schedule is already set, and that the 2012 season begins in a month.
Nevertheless, MLB kept working to get this implemented immediately, and according to Ken Rosenthal, it's happening, you guys:
Sources: Additional wild cards a "go" for this season. Playoffs to expand from eight to 10 teams. Announcement tomorrow. #MLB— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 29, 2012
Rosenthal's sources could be wrong, but Rosenthal's sources are rarely wrong. There's every reason to believe that the 2012 postseason is going to feature five teams from each league, as opposed to the four we'd gotten used to.
Expect there to be a bit of a scheduling mess at the end of the regular season. That was an obstacle, but evidently not a deal-breaker.
A lot of people aren't going to like this because this is change. A lot of people aren't going to like this because of other reasons. A lot of people are going to like this. As it happens, today we published the Toronto Blue Jays 2012 team preview. The Toronto Blue Jays are going to like this. It's time to start getting used to our new baseball reality.
So, a brief summary:
According to every source known to Man, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have agreed to expand the postseason, adding one "Wild Card" in each league. There are details, though. Scheduling details. And those details have not been resolved, which throws the whole enterprise into question. In 2012, anyway. Especially with a <em>March 1 deadline</em> looming.
Source: #MLB and union still discussing extra wild card for this year, March 1 is not a hard deadline for decision.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 28, 2012
And for our next trick, we will explain the difference between a deadline and a hard deadline.
It sure does seem like everybody wants this to happen in 2012, which makes me think it will happen in 2012. Which will make a lot of contending teams really happy, because if you're targeting 90 wins in March your chances of winning the World Series goes up significantly if you've got an extra chance at qualifying for the tournament.
We are getting close to the first spring training games of 2012, just eight days away. We are also getting close to Opening Day, just 40 days away. And we are getting very close to a self-imposed deadline that MLB and its various entities had set for deciding whether baseball would add two extra wild-card teams, one from each league, to the postseason for 2012. That deadline is March 1, six days from now.
But we are now “likely” to have those added postseason teams. Jayson Stark:
With a negotiating deadline just days away, it now appears “likely” that Major League Baseball and the players’ association will reach an agreement to expand the playoffs to 10 teams starting this season, sources familiar with the discussions have told ESPN.com.
According to the terms of baseball’s new labor deal, the two sides are required to reach an agreement before Thursday or postpone playoff expansion until 2013. However, discussions to resolve numerous scheduling issues have “intensified” in recent days, said one source.
Deadlines like this aren’t something that have ever been really important to Bud Selig & Co., who have often postponed tough choices while they dither around. Here’s the primary issue:
The biggest problem the scheduling experts have faced is trying to fit the best-of-five Division Series into just a six-day window, so the League Championship Series can begin Saturday, Oct. 13. That would mean eliminating at least one travel day in the Division Series, a development that could lead to major travel and game-time issues.
Excuse me while I chuckle a bit over the term “scheduling experts” being applied to those who come up with baseball schedules as bizarre as the ones we’ve seen in recent years. They did better with the two college professors who used to lay it out on paper on their kitchen table.
Anyway, the point is, looks like it could happen. But for this one season, until the leagues realign and scheduling makes room for two wild cards in 2013, it could be a real mess.
Bud Selig has been after expanded playoffs for a long time, and now with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he will almost certainly get them. Selig was even optimistic that the new wild cards would go into place this year -- as in, eight months from now. Jayson Stark, though, spoke to some folks who aren't convinced that specific timetable is realistic:
Wednesday was supposed to be the day the commissioner's office finished a proposed schedule for the 2012 postseason and shipped it to the players' association for consideration. But sources told ESPN.com that deadline wasn't going to be met -- not because talks have broken down, but because fitting two extra wild-card pieces into the postseason puzzle has proven to be more involved than the commissioner has been willing to acknowledge.
The biggest hurdle is that the schedule for the regular season and postseason have already been set. Squeezing an extra two wild-card games on top would be daunting enough, but there are also tiebreakers to worry about -- picture a three-team tie for a division that would need to be whittled down into a division winner and two wild-card winners, for example.
Stark lists other concerns, all of them valid, and then closes with this chilling quote:
"All of this is solvable," one management source said. "It just depends what consequences you're willing to accept."
Brrrrrrr. But what we know is that the wild cards are coming. They could just be a year away, like we figured they would be in the first place.
The new wild-card round is a great idea. But doing it now? When schedules are already set? Think again, Mr. Commissioner.
Major League Baseball is adding a new playoff spot in each league, maybe as soon as next season, and instead of complaining about it, we should accept it, and perhaps even be excited about it.
You can't believe the extra playoff spots are actually happening, and neither can any of your internet friends. This is because you live in an baseball-nerd bubble.
It's finally almost official: According to Commissioner Bud Selig, 2012 or '13 will see the addition of one Wild Card team in each league, with the Wild Cards meeting in one-game playoffs to open the postseason.
It's unanimous! There's not a single person in the entire universe who's not in favor of adding two teams to Major League Baseball's postseason tournament!
Well, not exactly. But when Selig took a poll, everyone was on his side. From his visit to the TBS broadcast booth on Sunday afternoon:
I am [looking at expanding the Postseason], in fact, John Schuerholz of the Braves and David Montgomery of the Phillies, both are club presidents and they are on that committee and we've had conversations about it ... I really believe that 10 out of 30 [teams making the postseason] is still a good number. It's by far the least number of any other sport as you well know. We've run all kinds of schedules and things and we have a 14-man committee with four managers, Joe Torre who now works for us, but [also] Jim Leyland, Tony La Russa and Mike Scioscia, and four general managers, four owners and then George Will and Frank Robinson [are on the committee]. I can tell you, and everything has been very confidential but they won't mind. This group has voted 14-0 for more playoffs. We're moving there but we have details to work out and the details are difficult. But I'm very confident that we're moving inevitably.
As usual, when Commissioner Bud puts together a Blue Ribbon Committee he somehow forgets to include anyone from the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Which isn't a fair criticism, I know. The Players Association probably wouldn't care to be included, because it would upset the natural order of things. But the fact is that nothing can happen to the playoffs unless the MLBPA signs off, and all those "details to work out" must be worked out with the union.
I think Selig's right, though: like it, don't like, or ambivalent, this probably is inevitable.
When Bud Selig said that baseball was moving "inexorably" towards expanding the playoffs, it felt safe to assume that more wild-card teams were going to be added. After years of people just not shutting up about how exciting the NHL regular season was, MLB didn't really have a choice.
Hold on, though. From Jayson Stark:
Union chief Michael Weiner told ESPN.com that the two sides have so far to go in negotiating expansion that "it's just too early" to predict anything.
Well, that's a little different. Of course, the MLBPA isn't necessarily appalled at the idea of expanded playoffs. This is likely just the union testing the waters to see what sort of concession baseball will give the players for agreeing to play an extra two games. Still, it's worth noting that MLB can't just push an extra-playoffs button and make it happen -- there will need to be some compromise between the players and the powers-that-be.
There are still issues to work through, but Bud Selig thinks expanded MLB playoffs are coming soon.
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