Commissioner Bud Selig is ready to move towards his goal of expanding the current format of the playoffs from three to four rounds, and from eight teams to ten (five in each league). 

On Thursday, Selig had this to say to the Associated Press, “I would say we’re moving to expanding the playoffs, but there’s a myriad of details to work out, 10 is a fair number.”

Indeed it is, out of the other three professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, and NHL), MLB has the lowest percentage of teams entering the playoffs, a near 27 percent. The NBA and NHL each have 53 percent of their league entering the playoffs and the NFL has a moderately higher percentage than baseball at 37.5 percent. 

Originally added after the 1994 players strike, the Wild Card has given teams who fell short in first place of their division a chance to get into the playoffs. Four teams have reaped the benefits of this—the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins, the 2002 Anaheim Angels, and the 2004 Boston Red Sox—and gone on to win the World Series.

In past years, we’ve seen teams such as the Colorado Rockies (2007), Chicago White Sox (2008) and Minnesota Twins (2009) play a one game winner take all Wild Card tiebreaker, and it seems to have triggered MLB’s interest in expanding the current format.

To dive into the possibility of playoff expansion, let’s take a look at the issues that will need to be resolved along with the benefits of them:


Longer Schedule, Hello November? 

Not necessarily, baseball has moved up the start of the regular season by a half week to avoid it sliding into November, and it might begin as early as next season.

The owners and the players aren’t going to want or pursue a series that’s in a five or seven-game format, so they’re shouldn’t be much of a problem over this.


One Game Format or Three Game Format?

Personally, a three-game format works best for a few reasons. First, it adds meaning to winning your division as you get to rest your players and reset the starting rotation in time for the League Division Series. A one game playoff won’t add that incentive. 

Second, I don’t like the idea of placing the entire weight on one game, this isn’t the NCAA Tournament or NFL. Plus, those wild card teams probably used their best pitching to get there and they might not have their aces on the mound for that one game. 

In the end, a best of three format is best. It’s reminiscent of the Little League World Series. However, the issue might be whether it should be played as home-away-home, or all in one place. Perhaps the team with the best record gets priority.

Ideally, a home-away-home format would add balance; all the games with the exception of the third one could be played during the day to allow time to travel between cities.   


Expanded Playoffs allows teams to end their droughts

Baseball is notorious for having teams who have yet to make the postseason in quite some time—the Pirates and Nationals are two prime examples. In order to increase their chances when they are ready to be a contender, this format would allow an opportunity for a dark horse to win the World Series.

Last season, the Red Sox and Padres would have been in had it been for the expansion of the playoffs, and it could have changed many things.

The bottom line is while it may not be a popular idea, it certainly helps teams duke it out for a chance at the World Series. It allows the hard work done during the dog days of the summer to be settled against a Wild Card rival and adds high drama to the postseason.

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