Major League Baseball announced officially today that the playoffs will be expanding to ten teams. Here is the press release:
MLB Adopts Expanded Format for 2012 Postseason
Two Additional Wild Cards Will Form 10-Team Postseason in 2012, Marking First Change to Postseason Format Since 1994
The 2012 Postseason will feature a 10-team format that includes two additional Wild Card Clubs and an elimination game in each League prior to the Division Series, Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to the changes to the new Postseason format as a part of last year’s collective bargaining. The new Basic Agreement, announced on November 22nd, provided that MLB and the MLBPA would expand the Postseason no later than 2013; that a second Wild Card would be awarded in both the American League and the National League; and that a single Postseason game would be played between each League’s two Wild Card Clubs, with each winner advancing to compete among the three division champions from each League in the Division Series. Following further discussions to address player concerns, the parties agreed that the new format would be used in 2012.
The change, which was endorsed by the Commissioner’s 14-member Special Committee for On-Field Matters, marks the first amendment to the Postseason since MLB adopted the six-division, eight-team Postseason structure in January of 1994. The first Postseason to be played under that format occurred in 1995.
Commissioner Selig said: “I greatly appreciate the MLBPA’s cooperation in putting the new Postseason format in place this year. The enthusiasm for the 10-team structure among our Clubs, fans and partners has been overwhelming. This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive Postseason in professional sports.”
Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA, said: “The players are eager to begin playing under this new format in 2012 and they look forward to moving to full realignment in 2013. Our negotiating committee and the owners’ representatives worked hard to develop a schedule that should make for fairer competition and provide our fans with a very exciting season.”
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.
Prior to 1994, the only changes to the Postseason system in Baseball history were in 1903 and from 1919-1921, when the sport had a nine-game World Series, and in 1969, with the advent of League Championship Series play before the World Series. (Prior to the inaugural World Series in 1903, Baseball experimented with Postseason competition as compact as a best-of-five system in 1884 and as elongated as a best-of-15 series in 1887.)
Overall, this is great for baseball. Not only do fans around the country love one-game playoffs, but this also adds significance to the division, something Major League Baseball has been looking for. with this, they can make a little money off TV rights as well as attendance (although not THAT much), but what may help them the most is the added interest in September games as well as in the playoffs. The one problem with the new system, at least for this year, is the scheduling. A rain out or a tie atop a division could mess up the schedule this year. Of course, next year that won’t be a problem because Bud Selig can adjust the playoff schedule.
Now, to how it affects the Mets… It doesn’t really help them this year. I don’t want to sound like a pessimistic downer, but the odds of the Mets snatching this spot is unlikely, especially with the Nationals and Marlins adding some big pieces this winter. A team will probably still need 88 or 89 wins to get that last spot. Speaking of 88 or 89 wins…
…David Wright was glad that the new one-game playoffs have been put in place, but he mentioned earlier today that he wished they had been installed sooner. In 2008, the Mets would have made the playoffs under this current system. If they had been given a chance in the playoffs, you never know what could have happened. Also, the 2007 team would have fallen a game short of the playoffs, but you never know what could have played out if a econd spot had been in place.Those teams had talent. Maybe not enough to win a title, but definitely enough to make some noise had they gotten in. Sadly, the spots weren’t put in place until this year.