Heading for more playoffs in 2012?

November, 3, 2010
11/03/10
1:15
PM ET
Uh-oh. Looks like commissioner Bud's got some interesting ideas kicking around in there ...
    Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig gave his strongest indication yet that two extra wild-card teams will be added to the playoffs for 2012.“I like it enough, so we’ll seriously consider it,” he said Sunday night before Game 4 of the World Series. “Is eight out of 30 enough? Is that fair? And that’s the basic question here, at least for me.”

    Asked his opinion of 10 playoff teams, Selig responded: “It’s more fair than eight.”

By that "logic," isn't 12 playoff teams more than 10? And 14 more fair than 12? No major professional sport in history -- not in recent history, anyway -- has been concerned with fairness. Not when it comes to playoffs. The No. 1 consideration is money, the No. 2 consideration is appeasing the unions and everything else is tied for a nonexistent No. 3. When somebody who works for a league uses the word "fair," he's trying to justify a decision that's motivated almost completely by money.
    Any change in the playoff format would be subject to agreement with the players’ association, and union head Michael Weiner said last week players were open to considering a larger postseason. Selig said his staff will start examining more wild-card teams in mid-November and wasn’t sure there was time to get a plan in place to expand the postseason for 2011.He also said the 162-game regular season will not change. Clubs do not want to lose ticket money and broadcast revenue from regular-season games.

Nobody, and I mean nobody wants fewer than 162 games. The owners don't want to give up the revenues, and the players don't want the owners to have an easy excuse for installing some sort of drag on salaries.
    If each league had two wild cards, they could meet in either a one-game or best-of-three playoff to advance to the division series. There is sentiment against a one-game playoff, but Selig is worried about the postseason extending toward Thanksgiving.“I’ve had some managers tell me we can’t play 162 games, wind up in a playoff for one game,” Selig said. “So you’re going to get both sides of the argument, and they’re very strong in that opinion, by the way.”

And we're supposed to care about the managers why, exactly? Major League Baseball is already beholden to the television people, the accountants, and whoever's running the Players Association ... now the commissioner is worried about what the managers think?

Give me a break. The wild card managers should just be thrilled to be there, one game or five.

The advantages of a one-game playoff are manifest. You do add another playoff team in each league, but you make it a little tougher on the wild-card teams -- thereby rewarding the teams that actually win their divisions -- and you don't have to lengthen the postseason schedule at all.
    Selig did not sound as if he favored expanding the division series from best-of-five to best-of-seven.“There’s something about a five-game as opposed to seven, where there’s more tension. There’s more drama,” he said.

Well, again ... by Selig's logic, doesn't it follow that we would have more drama in the League Championship Series if they were best-of-five? What about the World Series? Think how dramatic Games 1 and 2 would be, if you needed to win only three games!

I do believe that every game played before the World Series tends to lessen the drama of the World Series. The more days you have between the last day of the regular season and the beginning of the World Series, the more casual fans simply lose track of the proceedings.

I happen to think that's a fair tradeoff, TV ratings be damned. But I don't know that there's enough to be gained from adding another three or four days to the postseason schedule.

What's disconcerting is that we just keep hearing the same old things. What the TV people want. What the union wants. What some anonymous advisers are "telling" the commissioner and what seems "fair" to him.

I suspect that there are some really bright minds working at Major League Baseball, and sifting through the various ideas with some degree of sophistication. I just wish some evidence of their work would occasionally pass the commissioner's lips when he's making his public pronouncements.

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