“Expanded Playoffs Appear Inevitable”

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Bud Selig’s proposal to add two wild card teams; in the interim, that proposal has all but become a certainty. “Expanded playoffs appear inevitable” is the Yahoo headline for the Associated Press story. And, of course, it makes sense why it would be inevitable: Selig and the owners believe that more playoff teams means more money, and players and teams have little incentive to resist a plan that gives them more of a shot at the postseason. Two more facets of the plan from two weeks ago seem more likely: the new wild cards will first appear in 2012, not 2011, and they will probably play a best-of-three series rather than a one-game playoff.

I outlined my objections to the plan two weeks ago, so there’s no reason to restate them at length: I want to keep the schedule from expanding further and prevent the slippery slope of an expanded playoff schedule eroding the significance of the regular season. The main objection beyond that is the speciousness of the stated reasoning. Bud Selig has couched the idea of expanding the playoffs in language about “fairness:” “Eight is very fair number [of playoff teams] but so is 10.” Craig Calcaterra rightly calls him out for that:

I’d probably be less hostile to expanded playoff talk if someone in power could make a single baseball-based argument in favor of it. Likewise, if they simply said “this is about the money, really.” I’d probably lay off too, because hey, at least it’s honest. But please, spare me the “10 is more fair than eight” baloney. What are we, total idiots to them?

Idiots, no. Obviously, this plan is predicated on money. But there is a hidden fairness to it all, which is tied to the fundamental unfairness of the unbalanced schedule and current structure of baseball divisions. It’s fundamentally unfair for the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles to be in competing for two playoff spots with the two richest teams in baseball. Adding another playoff spot is just a bandaid on that problem, but it at least addresses it, and since no other division in baseball has the same problems, maybe a bandaid is all that’s needed. And it’s a little late for a slippery slope argument, as Blue Jay president Paul Beeston notes: “We really crossed that bridge, didn’t we, when we went from two teams to four teams, and then four teams to eight teams? So that bridge has been crossed. I’ve changed. I could add more teams.” Of course, Beeston is one of the men who will benefit most from the new plan.

But the more important ramification of this is that these two new best-of-three series will have to fit into the already packed playoff schedule, tailored as it is to maximize prime time weekend television exposure. Predictably, no one has any stomach for reducing the schedule from 162 games — because, of course, that would mean less money. Rob Neyer suggests that the only way to free up more days on the calendar, then, is to increase the number of traditional day-night doubleheaders. That’s an idea so quaint it seems impossibly naive — the Oakland A’s recently caused headlines by scheduling their first traditional day-night doubleheader since 1995, and they likely did it for a gimmick, to gin up interest in a team whose attendance has been lackluster for years. It seems unlikely that other teams would willingly sign up for that. But Neyer’s right that those extra playoff days will have to come from somewhere.

There isn’t much terribly wrong with this plan, in the abstract: it will make a lot of people richer while helping to increase the hopes of Blue Jays and Orioles fans without much hurting the fans of other teams. Compared to them, my objections are relatively minor. But I wish baseball’s leadership weren’t so disingenuous about it all. At least now I have nearly a year and a half to get used to the idea of 10 playoff teams.

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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.

74 Responses to ““Expanded Playoffs Appear Inevitable””

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  1. KAll says:

    Here’s my baseball reason for it:

    More playoff sports mean that more teams are in a playoff race for a longer period of time. That means more butts in seats for a longer period of time in more cities to coincide with increased hope. More interest in baseball in more cities for people who have more options than ever on how to spend their discretionary income

    That means 2 more teams have a couple more games to generate revenue, which increases their ability to spend which increases their competetiveness year in year out.

    Its not about fairness, its about money… and there’s nothing wrong with that. Without money, there’s no baseball.

    Baseball can either change or get left behind.

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    • Krog says:

      Is anyone really all that interested in regular season basketball? When too many teams make the playoffs the regular season doesn’t matter. My local Giants were a huge story in September because of the rarity of playoff spots and it took the entire regular season for them to make it to the postseason. Expanded playoffs would lessen the drama of the regular season.

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      • Aaron says:

        Yes (to your first question.)

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      • Aaron says:

        Oops, misread your statement. No (to your first question.)

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      • Danmay says:

        I don’t know, but I get the impression that possibly we – as sports fans that don’t view the NBA as their favorite – might be assuming that non-casual basketball fans don’t really care about the regular season. I know that I don’t care about the regular season much at all, but I’m not a serious NBA fan.

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      • Joe R says:

        NBA Regular season games for good teams are nothing but either practice, or battles of ego.

        Example: No one (with a brain) in Boston is gloating too much over the C’s going 2-0 against the Heat. We know this could easily change in the postseason. Definitely is fun to see the team win against the Heat, though.

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    • Hank says:

      I wonder about the execution of this scenario…. if it’s not a winner take all, then I assume it’s best of three?

      So how does that work? Is there a day off after the reg season – if not that might punish one team if they are on the road or have to travel for that game (and it might be the higher seeded wildcard winner).

      Are there home games for both teams? 1-1-1 format, 1-2 format 2-1 (which seems unlikely as it might mean no home games for a team). If these are teams on opposite sides of the country is there a travel day? Is there a day off after the series is over? It seems like the division winners will have 4 or 5 days off (maybe more) and I wonder what impact that might have.

      This also would have sucked most of the drama out of what was a great 3 way race in the NL for 2 spots. It would have rendered Atlanta last few games meaningless (as they would have been locked in to a wildcard spot).

      It’s just a matter of time where the 2nd wildcard team is locked in and has a chance to rest and setup their rotation and will face a wildcard team with a better record who was battling down to the wire to win a division and will go into the series without their best pitcher (or even top 2) and be at a disadvantage despite winning more games. And if it is a winner take all you might have an ace going up against a #3 or #4 starter.

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      • wt says:

        maybe they should pick a spot ahead of time for the wild card game(s) to be played. Then just have a three game series in one spot, so they can get it done quickly and not disadvantage the teams that earned a legit spot.

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    • Matt says:

      5 out of 14 AL teams will make the playoffs under this new 10 team playoff crap. That’s over 1/3. But why stop there? If we let 12 teams into the playoffs then EVEN MORE teams will be “in the race.” And hell, if we let 14 teams EVEN MORE teams will be. Who cares if half of all AL teams will make the playoffs then.

      The more this issue gets discussed, the more I feel that the only reason it might happen is because the Yankees’ revenue is ridiculous. Are we really going to restructure the playoffs because we can’t find a way for the Blue Jays to compete with the Yankees?

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  2. Navin V. says:

    As a Jays fan, I wish this change was happening in 2011, not 2012.

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  3. Locke says:

    It’s kind of sad. If they made divisional series 7 games, that’d have actually been a fair move while putting more money in the owners pockets… but they had to be greedy and want even more…This just turns the playoffs into a clusterfock.

    3 games > 5 games > 7 games? Seriously?

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  4. Tynan says:

    More incentive for the casual fan to tune out until October, or even November…

    What a crock.

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  5. DonCoburleone says:

    I don’t really like this idea, but since it’s going to happen anyway the 2 wild card teams should play an all-or-nothing 1 game playoff. It would generate much bigger ratings than a 3 game series and it wouldn’t take 4 or 5 days to complete so there would be less of a need for day-night doubleheaders or starting the season a week early…

    Also isn’t this just gonna create more argument & controversy (and whining) at the end of every season? I mean, this year in the AL you would have had the Yankees playing the Red Sox despite the Yankees finishing 6 games ahead of the Sox. Just imagine all the moaning and whining that would have come from Yankee fans if that happened this year?

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    • I’m not sure there’s anything under the sun that can keep Yankee and Red Sox fans from whining. Heaven knows that world championships and unlimited payrolls aren’t enough.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        Game. Set. Match.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        That’s the Fangraphs equivalent of “I’m Rick James Bitch!”


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      • B N says:

        I’ve said this before and I’ve said it again. As a Red Sox fan I find it entirely offensive to be lumped in with the Yankees in the category of “unlimited payroll” just because we’ve had some success recently. The Yankees are in a payroll class of themselves. Especially you, who should know the numbers, should be aware of this.

        The Red Sox fall into the class that includes the Cubs, Mets, and Phillies. They’re generally at the top of that class, but not always. Unless you’re ready to start saying the Phillies and Mets have unlimited payrolls…

        With that said, I’m a Red Sox fan and I oppose this plan so very much. What the heck kind of a season is it if THREE playoff teams come from the AL East? Sure, the Red Sox missed the playoffs this year but we deserved to get knocked out. Having the Sox in the playoffs this year would have been a travesty. When do you see a team lose half it’s infield and half its outfield, then fall into the playoffs with the 3rd best record in its division? Ugly.

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      • Owen says:

        I take offense to this on the basis that you don’t distinguish the Yankee and Red Sox fans that tend to frequent this site with the masses who do the whining.

        As for the subject at hand, as a Yankee fan and had the positions in the standings been reversed, I don’t think I’d have gotten much satisfaction if the Yankees got in as the third team and faced the Sox. I recognize that the playoffs are a crapshoot and should be structured to the benefit of the teams that win the most in the regular season. The Sox didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs this year and if the Yankees were in the same position I wouldn’t feel right with them making it in.

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      • Aaron says:

        Hey Alex, I’m a Red Sox fan and I really think that …whine…whine…whine…

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      • B N says:

        Additionally, I should note that everybody’s fanbases whine. The Red Sox and Yankees just happen to be most notable because they’re larger groups and have bigger soapboxes.

        I agree 100% with everything you just said. So there. Now we have it fellows, Yankee fans and Red Sox fans getting along. Next up, peace- Middle East… Go.

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    • quincy0191 says:

      The last part is the problem I have with it. In the NL this year, it would have been fine, because the Braves and Padres were both very close the postseason all through September, and if they had to have a three-game playoff it wouldn’t have been ridiculous.

      But what about the years when Wild Card 1 has more than two games on Wild Card 2? Then Wild Card 2 could conceivably go into divisional play having won fewer overall games than Wild Card 1, which is silly. Of course, this happens already with divisional play.

      The real solution is to get rid of divisions, and either add two AL teams or swap one team from the NL to the AL and have season-long interleague play. Then the top four teams from each league make the postseason and everything is fair; you get a balanced schedule, and the teams that make the postseason really are the best four teams, not the teams who were best in some sort of gerrymandered geographical area.

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  6. Lee Panas says:

    I’m old school and wish they never expanded to 8 teams. However, I don’t think two wild cards in a league is any worse than one wild card. It might even be better. The one advantage to the new proposed setup is that teams now have more incentive to winning a division because it means avoiding the first round. I think that’s a good thing.

    What I don’t like about expanded playoffs is that it cheapens the significance of both the regular season and the playoffs. I think too much is made out of winning the whole post-season crapshoot. If there was a way to award both the regular season and post-season winners, I’d be less opposed to expanded playoffs.

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    • I co-sign this statement in full.

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    • Travis says:

      I think you presented the first good baseball argument I’ve heard — winning your division means you now have a first round bye.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Agree. I’d prefer to go back to 2-divisions per league, and make winning the division mean almost everything.

      But, if we have to have the wild card, then there should be some penalty to it, or some reward for the division winners.

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    • Brian Tallet's Moustache says:

      I really like the “it makes winning the division important again” argument. Except over the last little while (I haven’t checked this so point out if I’m wrong) haven’t teams with long breaks between series done poorly?

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      • Lee Panas says:

        That’s a good point. So, in order for this to work as an advantage to division winners, they are going to have to make it as short a layoff as possible. I’d like to see them play three games in three days with no other days off, but they would probably have to have one extra day in case of rain.

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    • baty says:

      Yes, so that’s the direction this is heading in…. You have 30 teams battling for the top at 162 games a pop, and then you’re going to give more than 25% of them the shot to compete for the championship over a 20 game span? How is this not ridiculous? Way to keep making the regular season more and more meaningless…

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    • LAprGuy says:

      I agree with all of Lee Panas posts here: Division champs get a bye – or at least three games/days off – while the wild carders burn their top starters. Fair enough to me.

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  7. Mark says:

    One of the major problems with this plan is that the wild cards are forced to play off, instead of the two worst records among playoff qualifiers.

    Why should an 85-win team from a weak division get a bye, while two 90+ win teams battle it out?

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    • v-Skippy says:

      I have never been a fan of “punish the wildcard team” when there is an unbalanced schedule and divisions. Just ask the 102 win A’s who were the wildcard team in 2001.

      –and sorry, clicked on the “thumbs down” vote for your comment on accident.

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  8. JK says:

    What if we left things as is and just went back to balanced schedules? Or added a wild card AND went back to balanced schedules. I realize that the Jays (my team), Rays, and Orioles would still be competing directly with the Sox and Yankees, but that could even out a bit of the unfairness of having those teams play the Sox and Yanks more than the other teams with whom they are competing for the wild card. Also, I know it wont happen because baseball wants the 18 Sox-Yanks games a year, but I can dream, cant I?

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  9. Baron Samedi says:

    Fuck off, Navin.

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  10. Baron Samedi says:


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  11. Baron Samedi says:




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  12. Danmay says:

    If the World Series were always won by the best team as determined by the regular season, then there would be no point in watching the playoffs (obviously). The World Series trophy is handed to the team that won in the playoffs, and that’s all that it means. The only people that argue that the Giants had the best team in 2010 are the same people who begin and end the argument by stating that they won the World Series (No offense Giants fans I’m exaggerating, I’m sure there are other arguments). We know that the results of a few playoff series are largely a crapshoot because of inherant large role that luck plays in baseball, the expansion merely changes the eight-sided die to a ten-sided one (roughly speaking). I don’t actually think that this cheapens the significance of the World Series victory, it just means that fans of possibly better teams will have to spend more time defending the greatness of their team even if they have no rings to back it up. If anything it makes a World Series victory more significant for a team like the Yankees because it will happen less frequently.

    KAll – To a degree I agree that baseball can either change or be left behind. To that end I will only recommend that baseball never expand it’s playoffs to include more teams than the NFL does because to some degree the regular season gets diluted with every additional team allowed into the playoffs and I always want to be able to hold the small size of baseball playoffs over anyone that defends the NFL as being superior.

    Lee Panas- I think the playoff flags (is that what they’re called) suffice in recognizing regular season performance.

    But the expanded playoffs do pose scheduling problems, I can’t argue against that.

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  13. Jon says:

    So, it would be like football then, yes? If not, then screw this-it’s a terrible idea.

    If yes, then that’s fine by me, so long as there are NO significantly large breaks for the 1 and 2 teams. It would be completely unfair if that occurs.

    Now maybe I can hold out hope that they cut some games from the schedule…like 30 or 40. BWAHAHAHAHA. I kid myself with my hopes.

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  14. Krog says:

    On the (slightly) off topic of the Oakland A’s doubleheader: yes please may I have another! This will be awesome.

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  15. pitnick says:

    I really don’t understand this notion of baseball “getting left behind.” They pull in enormous amounts of money. Baseball isn’t going anywhere, no matter what they do.

    And, it never hurts repeating, of course it’s a terrible idea. Playoffs should be for the best teams. Regular season should matter.

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    • Danmay says:

      They pull in enormous amounts of money, but relative to the NFL they are aboslutely getting left behind.

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      • Oakland Dan says:

        The NFL doesn’t pull in more money than MLB because there are more playoff teams. The NFL pulls in more money because it is wildly popular with us Americans. You’ve got regular season NFL games with more viewers than MLB playoff games.

        This has happened because there are a ton of boneheads. I know, I know, it’s snobby, and it’s elitist, and it’s obnoxious, and the rest of it, but it’s true. Many baseball fans also like football, but there are tons of people that like football but don’t bother with MLB because baseball seems all complicated and boring. People want 7-layer dip and just enough analytical-sounding nonsense to make them feel that they aren’t wasting their time.

        This is part of the larger trend of anti-intellectualism that is currently sweeping its way across this great land. Baseball could add 6 playoff teams, and it still wouldn’t draw anywhere near the interest that football draws.

        Prediction: Eventually, despite the NFL adding 4 more playoff teams, football’s apparent braininess and its disturbing lack of fiery crashes will turn even dumber people off, and those people will sit and watch cars drive around in a circle.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The NFL doesn’t pull in more money than MLB because there are more playoff teams. The NFL pulls in more money because it is wildly popular with us Americans.

        It’s amazing that you have to point it out, but there do actually seem to be people that think if the MLB had the NFL style playoff format they’d be equally popular.

        Americans, currently, like football better than baseball. It’s about the viewing of the sport, not the playoff format.

        Not just that, but with NFL, you can watch 2 (or more) games simultaneously.

        We are a TV society, and baseball ain’t made for TV, either is hockey. IMO, both the NBA and NFL are better on TV, and especially better in video games.

        Baseball is a game for a time with more liesurely pace and greater attention spans.

        I have not watched a full baseball game since the Cardinals won in 06, and I don’t feel as though I’ve really missed much. Great sport. Not so great television viewing. I do, however, go to many games at Wrigley, Cell, and Busch during the season.

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      • DonCoburleone says:

        Every sport in America is getting left behind by football when it comes to TV money (aka ratings). Baseball just gets compared to football all the time cuz their seasons cross paths for 2 full months and baseball has the “national pastime” nickname. The NBA gets murdered by the NFL & NCAA football also, but you don’t hear about it cuz the NBA postseason is in May/June when football is barely on anyone’s radar.

        And OAKLAND DAN I’m as big a baseball fan as anyone, but compared to football watching baseball on TV is like watching fly’s fuck (excuse my french) to most people. You and me may be able to realize the beauty in certain aspects of baseball like the hitter-pitcher matchup or a great defensive play, but football also has very sophisticated aspects to it as well. Offensive and defensive scheming has come a long way from the Bo Schembeckler days when you’d just line up and hand the ball off to your running back 50 times a game.. Just watch a New Orleans Saints game, their offense is as choreographed and sophisticated as any pitchers gameplan the 3rd time through a batting order (for example)…

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      • Anon says:

        CC11–Agree on the TV point. Hockey can be difficult to watch on TV, but it’s easily the best sport to watch live out of the “big 4.”

        Also, IMHO, hockey video games >>>> basketball video games.

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  16. Nick C says:

    Why don’t we include all of the teams, because that more fair. Then we should have the teams with the best records play each other and the teams with the worst records play each other, because you know that’s more fair. Heck, why not make it double elmination, because you know thats more fair.

    Actually, why not just pass around the commisioner’s trophy every year? because I know all the teams are trying their hardest to win so everyone should have chance to be the ‘Champion.’

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  17. bowie says:

    The players may also like expanded playoffs because it will enhance perception of parity and competitive balance, which takes away from owners’ argument that limits on player salaries are necessary to create those things.

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  18. Train says:

    If baseball wants to expand it’s audience then they need to target the casual fans without losing too many hard core fans. Adding more postseason may attract more casual fans as more teams would be involved in the drama of the postseason hunt, but the continual watering down of the game has to be costing baseball hard core fans. If you eventually become a game dependent on casual fans you become nascar (look at their attendance over the last 3 years). Casual fans are fickle and can leave you at any moment. If baseball built up a fanbase of these fans and they all left baseball would be in big trouble with no way really to go back to the way it was when hard core fans were their biggest supporters (eg we will never go back to less than 162 reg season games). Imo there are a multitude of things baseball could do to attract more casual fans without alienating hard core fans.

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  19. MikeS says:

    There is so much wrong with this plan.

    In Chicago, the average first frost is October 10th, the latest November 1st. The Twins have a stadium without a roof. The later you go, the more likely you get to see outfielders sliding around in a little snow.

    More teams will feel they are in it at the trading deadline. For teams in, oh, say the third quartile of the league this is a disaster. They may draw a few more fans later in the season but they will miss an opportunity to improve themselves for the future through an unwillingness to alienate the fan base.

    Division winners will have at least 5 days off. The more teams you let in, the more likely you need a one game playoff since team records cluster in the middle so you have to schedule an off day for that. Maybe 2 in case of a three way tie which becomes more likely. You have to have a travel day in case Tampa and Seattle are the wild cards. That’s a long time to wait. It’s also a HUGE disadvantage for the wild card. No worries about setting up your rotation if you win the division. A 95 win AL east team could find itself at a severe disadvantage against an 85 win AL central/west team. That’s fair?

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  20. budman says:

    I’m not sure if I like the idea of expanding the play-offs but there is way to do it with minimal adjustments in the schedule. If the the season started only a 3 days sooner(begin on a Friday in early April instead of that Sunday or Monday for most teams), the final series of the season would end on a Thursday. So maybe you lose an exciting weekend series to end a race but so what. Games will be just as important and fans will show up.

    That would allow for a best two of three series between two wild cards team to be played on the weekend after the season ended. A very usual Friday-Sunday series with no travel days. Best play-off record gets all three games at their site. That would give a great deal of importance to have the best wild-card record of the two teams. No time off for either team to begin the series(too bad if their rotation gets messed up….that’s the price they pay) and maybe give one day after to begin the league divisional series. It would not be that much different in terms of days off for teams winning their division than it is now. A division winning team plays it’s final game on Thursday and plays it’s first play-off game on Tuesday/Wednesday. Time off might be either 4 of 5 days. In fact, a division winning team can set up their rotation by just letting their ace pitch 5/6 innings on the last day of the season(if they chose) and than continue to follow the remaining staff spots.

    If there was a concern with starting the season three days early because of weather, than make efforts to play most of those games in warm weather cities or with domes(currently six with Florida on line in two years).

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  21. Michael says:

    I love this idea. Ideally I wanted the football format, but this is good enough.

    Frankly, I just hate seeing the Pirates trade away their team year after year. I hate seeing the Brewers seem to position themselves to trade away their stars when their value is greatest, during the season.

    And don’t even give me the “cheapening the regular season” nonsense.

    Do you know how you cheapen a regular season? By making it 162 games long. Think about it. A single regular season baseball game is half as important as a regular season hockey or basketball game, a tenth as important as a regular season NFL football game, and about a thirteenth as important as a regular season NCAA football game.

    The regular season can’t noticeably get cheaper considering the rate it’s already at.

    I want fewer teams quitting halfway through the season, and this is a great way to accomplish that.

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    • baty says:

      Then lets just make the MLB regular season 16 games long… That’ll force the Pirates to spend money!

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    • Anon says:

      The longer the season, the better chance the best teams will be in the playoffs. After 82 games, you could see some pretty mediocre teams in the playoffs.

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      • Michael says:

        You could make a pretty sound argument that half the teams in the baseball playoffs this year just weren’t that good. Hell, the Giants won the World Series, and they really just weren’t exceptionally good.

        Would you prefer a BCS style system? Most people seem to think that’s been working well.

        God forbid we expand and have something like football where a 9-7 Cardinals team with a +1 point differential can go to the playoffs, because there’s no chance they’d ever give us one of the best Super Bowls in a generation.

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  22. EdwardM says:

    Let’s not pretend that the unbalanced schedule is the only reason my Jays haven’t won more than 90 games and had no playoff appearances since 1993. In 2006, the Jays won 87 games: 43-31(.581) against the east, including 20-17 against Bos/NYY, 18-17(.514) against the central, 17-18 (.485) against west and 9-9 inter-league. All good for 2nd place and their best finish since Carter took The Wild Thing deep. Both the White Sox and Angels had more wins so 2 extra playoff spots wouldn’t have helped.

    Baseball in November will be like hockey in June – ridiculous to watch and poorly played. But it seems inevitable so I’d like to suggest that the 1st series be 3 games over 2 days. A day/night double-header on a nice October day might be enjoyable.

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  23. lincolndude says:

    One nit-pick: the double-header the A’s scheduled is NOT a day/night doubleheader. It is a true doubleheader, meaning the games are played back-to-back. Pretty damn cool, actually.

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  24. baty says:

    Bud Selig is a radical putz

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  25. algionfriddo says:

    Expanded playoffs is a terrible idea. I like making all the current playoffs 7 games though.
    I’d like more regular season double headers. That would make for more off days… start the season later and end earlier. I’d also favor 154 games instead of 162, but none of this will make the owners more money and that’s the bottom line. Millionaires making more money for billionaires, so they can build more ballparks… with taxpayer money. I really love the game, but I can’t say I like the business part.

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  26. pft says:

    I think it is a good move for the following reasons.

    1. Teams that do not make the playoffs often generate an additional 30 million in revenue by making the playoffs (same year and next year carryover. That’s 60 million per year for those teams and MLB to add to it’s 7 billion in total revenue (almost 1%).

    2. You basically need 95 W under today’s format to guarantee a playoff spot. Teams like the Red Sox target 95 W. They do not try and build a team to win the World Series or win 103 games, but build a team that can make the playoffs. What happens in the playoffs is a crapshoot, a number of 100 W teams have not won the World Series, or even made it to the World Series.

    Under this new system, teams like the Red Sox can now target 90 W which will get you a playoff spot in most years under the new system. This will save them 20 million in salaries. They no longer will have to pay 4 million per WAR for the 5 WAR that would get them to 95.

    3. Winning the division now counts for something. You get to align your rotation for the AL/NL DS and, get a few days rest for your players. No longer will teams like the Red Sox concede the division title so they can rest their players and align their rotation in the playoffs. They will make a better effort to win the division and avoid the WC playoff.

    It’s this last reason that puts me in favor of the expanded playoffs.

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    • Jake R says:

      1. Teams make approximately $30 million dollars, on average, by making the playoffs under the current format. It is poor logic to assume that that would remain unchanged while adding teams to the playoffs. It is especially problematic when MLB will be treating 4 of its playoff teams like second class citizens, devaluing their accomplishment and, likely, the financial benefit pursuant to them. There will be a net financial gain, in all likelihood, but the $30 million dollar figure is almost certainly too high.

      2. By putting wild card teams at a competitive disadvantage in the playoffs, you are going to accomplish precisely the opposite. This will accelerate the arms race between the Yankees and Red Sox as the wild card will no longer be an acceptable alternative to winning the division. This will increase the cost of FA throughout the game while simultaneously widening the talent gap between the AL East and the rest of the league. That is bad for baseball. Additionally, by adding more teams to the theoretical playoff contender status in each offseason, there will be more teams with an incentive to spend on FA, increasing the overall percentage of revenue dedicated to roster expenses and compounding the already mentioned salary escalation effect.

      3. See point 2 above. The law of unintended consequences is not always kind.

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  27. Jon B. says:

    My argument is really quite simple: I don’t want silly things like byes.

    Two teams? Alright. Four? Sure. Eight? Works for me. They play a certain number of games, winners move on to face each other. Perfect, easy to understand and fair.

    You start introducing bye weeks and you’re asking for trouble, from both sides. You’ll fracture people on whether or not extra rest is good or bad (probably along the lines of whether their team got it and how they did, but still!). You’ll have people questioning the wisdom of the potential of a team who just finished at least 162 games having to play 22 more. In a world where young talent is become more and more prized and innings and workload put under more and more scrutiny, you will have people railing against baseball for putting its young talent at risk for money, questioning how it is that teams that already have to watch their rookies’ innings are going to be competitive in an even longer postseason without getting anybody hurt. (Frankly to the extent that pitch counts are a good idea, they’ll be right.)

    And for what? The “fairness” of trying to un-fuck the situation baseball’s previous money grab, the unbalanced schedule, has caused for the AL East in particular? Does anybody else get a vision of all of these owners sitting around in some hotel conference room someplace in smoking jackets, cigars hanging out of their mouths, laughing their asses off at having invented a solution to their money grab that involves grabbing more money?

    It’s not worth it. Eight is perfect. Unless of course they just want to skip the shit and move right to 32. I mean hell, they’d need to scrounge up a few more expansion teams but that will bring in more money, right? And in true Little League style, everybody gets to play–in the playoffs. Won’t their mommies be proud?

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  28. Lee Panas says:

    A few people here have mentioned going back to a balanced schedule. I think if you are going to have a balanced schedule, then divisions make no sense. The point of divisions should be for teams to play more games versus geographic rivals. I would only be in favor of a balanced schedule, if they eliminated divisions and just chose the top teams in the league. If “fairness” is what is really wanted, then that is the fairest way to determine the most deserving playoff teams.

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    • Tigerdog says:

      What would make more sense is to stack all the “rich” teams into one division in each league, or do so as much as possible. You could even justify a modest expansion if the leagues were comprised of four divisions of four teams each, like the NFL, but with most of the smaller market teams in competitive divisions that they could win.

      I’m torn between putting the T Rays into a southern division, and just moving them to Charlotte because the city doesn’t support even a great winning team. But even still, things have to be made more competitive for smaller market clubs.

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  29. R M says:

    Wait….an entire 162 game season decided by a 2 game losing or winning streak? That makes total sense.

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  30. GiantHusker says:

    In a year when there is a tie for one of the playoff spots, there will be a 1-game playoff, followed by the 3-game playoff, followed by the 5-game playoffs, followed by the 7-game playoffs, followed by the World Series. By that time, I shall have skipped the whole mess and be watching football.

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  31. J.M. says:

    I feel that MLB’s playoff system is the best in sports. The only teams with the opportunity to win the league’s championship are a small handful of the BEST teams. That’s the way it should be.

    The answer to the Rays and Yankees not having enough incentive to win the division this year isn’t to give the Red Sox a 3-game series to potentially erase a 7-game deficit. That’s insane! That completely cheapens the regular season and rewards mediocrity. The Yanks/Rays could have beaten the Sox 15 times, but all that is forgotten if they win 2/3 at the end of the season.

    Each of the last 5 years there was a case of a Wild Card “runner-up” being 5-7 games behind the WC winner. That team does not deserve to make up that difference with two wins. In 2004, Oakland was 8 games behind Boston. Boston was 4 games behind the Yankees that last week: in the “new” format, the Red Sox would have even more incentive to rest their starters the last week, to try to prepare for the eventuality of a brutal playoff schedule.

    This is stupid. What’s going to happen: there will be a couple years where some iffy stuff happens, and they’ll just add another two teams to fix it. No one has ever reduced a pool of postseason teams. Purists who want more “incentive” for winning the division should be terrified at what their getting themselves into.

    If you want things to be more fair, I think you should balance the schedule a little more and make the Divisional series 7 games. The team with the worst record would play the team with the best (regardless of division). It still won’t be perfect, but it’ll be better.

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  32. Ian says:

    Until they balance the schedule, there’s always going to be the chance that the wild card is the second best team in the league. Now we could have the second best team facing the third best team for the chance to play the fourth or fifth place teams, and they’ll be using up their best pitchers to have that chance. That is not a more fair system. A more fair system would be to get rid of the divisions and put the top 4 teams in each league in.

    I’m a Jays fan, and I don’t want my team to get into the playoffs because they changed the rules. I want them to get in because they’re one of the best teams in the league.

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  33. Tigerdog says:

    Would the plan be to choose the two teams with the best records that don’t win their division, so that a third place team might make the playoffs? Or the two teams that finish second with the best records? If third place teams are allowed to make the playoffs, that just makes it easier for New York and Boston as well as other clubs. The Yankers would have been in the playoffs every season since they went to three divisions.

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  34. Cuban X Senators says:


    A traditional double-header is 2 games with one admission and 20 minutes between games. A day-night double-header is 2 games, 2 admissions and 1pm & 7pm (approx) start times.

    And the A’s have been actively trying to gin down interest for years because they’ll be revenue tax receivers & low attendance gives them leverage for greener pastures. A 1-admission double-header keeps attendance low.

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  35. Rudy says:

    1. Put in a salary system similar to what the NFL has. A minimum salary as well as a cap so owners like the ones in KC, CIN, PIT, CLE, and FLA can’t purposely keep their teams in the bottom 5 and get extra money.

    2. Dump the DH (I don’t know if this would help or not, I just hate the DH)

    3. Contract 6 of the most poorly attended teams to improve talent levels, such as: both Florida teams, DC, SD, COL, and AZ. Move KC to the National League to make it 12 teams for both leagues.

    4. End Interleague play and go back to AL and NL, no divisions, winners of both leagues play in the WS and everything is over by mid october. Back to 154 game seasons, each team in both leagues play the other 11 teams 14 times each. Why have a ridiculous playoff system when these teams already play each other 14 times a year? This would improve regular season ratings because the season actually matters now. If the league wants extra playoff games, extend the World Series to 11 or 9 games as it was in the early 20th century.

    5. Give the umpires more authority to deal with players and pitchers slowing down the game. Expanding the strike zone is also a possibility to reduce full count at bats. Seriously, watch an inning or two of a game from the 60s or 70s on ESPN classic. Marvel at how much less time is wasted.

    Selig or the Players’ Union would not go for any of these solutions, but I think they would go a long way toward reviving interest in baseball.

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