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UPDATE: GMs favor an additional wild card, best of three wild card playoff round

Nov 16, 2010, 9:00 PM EDT

Bud Selig defiant

UPDATE: Some hate it. Some like it. But MLB is more likely to expand the playoffs in 2012 as opposed to next season, according to the Associated Press.

Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president of labor relations, explained earlier this afternoon that adding another wild card team would be “a difficult trick to pull off” because it would require reopening the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union. The current deal runs through the end of next season, so don’t freak out yet. It’s at least a year away.

By the way, if the playoffs were expanded for this past season, the Yankees would have played the Red Sox in the American League and the Braves would have played the Padres in the National League.

12:30 PM: The general managers are all meeting in Florida this week and, as we’ve expected, one of the items on the agenda will be making a proposal to Commissioner Selig about expanding the first round of the playoffs with an additional wild card team.  The news nugget here is that the GMs USA Today’s Bob Nightengale spoke to all prefer that the first round of the playoffs, which would be between each league’s two wild card teams, either be a one-and-done elimination game or, at most, a best of three scenario.

I’m on record as being opposed to any expansion of the playoffs, because I think it’s a cynical cash grab that Bud Selig has disingenuously portrayed as “fairness” — Fairness? Where’s replay then? —  and that by increasing the number of teams eligible for the postseason party, you increase the chances that a bad team will get hot for a couple of weeks and more or less make a mockery of the regular season. Oh, and you likely reverse the things baseball has tried to do to cut the length of the playoffs down over the past couple of years. Worst of all, it creates a total crapshoot playoff round that is about as divorced from the normal dynamics of baseball than anything that’s ever been done before, and that sits with me quite poorly. One-and-done? If we’re gonna make a tournament out of this, let’s just invite all 30 teams and unleash the bracketologists.

Assuming, however, that baseball is intent on expanding the playoffs — which they appear to be — I suppose that a best-of-three scenario is the least worst option.  Sure, it still makes a gimmick out of that first round, but at least it places a premium on winning the division as opposed to getting the wild card. Especially if the division series is expanded to seven games.  Ask yourself: does Joe Girardi content himself with the wild card if it means that he has to face Jon Lester and the Red Sox in an elimination game, or does he try to pass up the Rays in order to assure himself of a best-of-seven first round?  I bet the latter.

I still think it’s possible to make winning the division mean more than winning the wild card with only four playoff teams — compress the schedule; fiddle with home field — but if they’re hellbent on a bad idea, at least it will likely come with a half-decent side-benefit.

  1. Kevin S. - Nov 16, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Joe Girardi tries hard to pass the Rays, while Terry Francona and the Red Sox have the leisure to line up their rotation. Yeah, that’s fair. Penalize the team that finished six games higher.

    • twinsfn343 - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:24 PM

      if they make it a one game playoff seting up their rotation wont be much of an advantage, and if they win that game then they have burned their ace for game one of the division series.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:38 PM

        I think it matters if the trailing team has the luxury of putting their ace in that game, while the leading team can only use a top-end starter.

        And the one-game playoff is for breaking ties. Making the play-in one game basically erases all meaning from the year-long six-game edge the Yanks had built over the Red Sox. Three games isn’t much better, but one game is all kinds of awful.

      • twinsfn343 - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:10 PM

        Its not about making it fair between the two wild card teams, its about giving them an extra hurdle to jump before the divison series. If you are a wild card team you are lucky to even have a chance at the playoffs so it should be made more difficult for them to advance.

        The team trailing the divison leader going into the final weekend of regular season can align their rotation the same as the other wild card team. If they are trailing by 3 games or less why would it matter if thier ace throws the Friday, Saturday or Sunday game? It wouldn’t so therefore they could setup their ace to pitch the one game playoff just the same

        Making it a best of 3 series would create a longer layoff for the top teams and allow the wild card to get hot before going into the next round. Also it would create the possibilty for wild card team to bring their ace back for game 1 and 5 of the divison series.

  2. Jonny 5 - Nov 16, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    If they want to extend the playoffs sooooo badly, why not just get the first round up to a seven game series, as it probably should be anyway. And go 9 games with the divisional championship series’ and the World series? I like the sound of that better. Two wildcards per is just dilluting the need to win your division. The longer series would only help to prove who is actually the better team imo.

    • ultimatecardinalwarrior - Nov 16, 2010 at 11:00 PM

      Do you really want to hear Joe Buck and Tim McCarver talk about the same tired storylines for an extra two games? God it could be miserable.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 17, 2010 at 12:03 AM

        Well. Yeah… on both counts. Or it could be the best baseball ever…

  3. BC - Nov 16, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    I swear the first time a 79-83 team makes the playoffs, I’ll never watch the sport again.

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:07 PM

      You are a pathetically bad liar BC. 😛

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:17 PM

        He is a Mutts fan, so it’s possible that he is being honest.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:19 PM

        But what if it’s the Mutts who make it in with that record? If any team can get r done, it’s them right?

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:24 PM

        I get the distinct feeling the Wilpons could somehow lose out to a team with a worse record.

      • BC - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:42 PM

        The Mets will be lucky to see 79 wins again until I’m so old I have drool running down my chin and no longer know what baseball is.

  4. andrewkw - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    I’m already looking for new summer activities. I really have no interest at all in expanded playoffs. Maybe it will be hard to give up MLB all together, but it won’t be hard to go somewhere else other then Florida for vacation or to spend money I spent on tickets on other things. Devoting 3hrs x about 150 plus 4hrs x a million in the playoffs will free up a lot of time for other things.

    • BC - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:17 PM

      Give NASCAR a try. Works for me when the Mets are out of contention 9 times out of 10.

  5. Utley's Hair - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Let’s get a caption for that photo.

    “If I find out who threw that broken maple bat up her, so help me, I’ll form a committee to analyze and discuss what I eventually won’t do about it!!!”

    • hasbeen5 - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:00 PM

      Well done, sir.

  6. bigharold - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    If this keeps up I forsee the not too distant future when I’m channel surfing between nthe Detroit Lions game and the WS on Thankgiving.

    Can’t wait for a Twins – Brewers WS in mid November.

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:35 PM

      The Rockies-Twins Turkey Bowl!!!!!!!

  7. jasonc2300 - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Please stop asking us to pull your finger, Bud.

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:55 PM

      He’s just showing us all that it isn’t up his nose.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:38 PM

        He doesn’t realize that it’s not the same one everybody else is showing him.

  8. elric718 - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    I like the one game playoff. You snuck in as a wild card, who cares if it is totally fair to you?

  9. fordman84 - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    And here comes the basketball system where half the league makes the “playoffs”. Want things more interesting? Cut down on the number of draft rounds and allow picks to be traded.

  10. bennettar - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    This would definitely bring some uncertainty into the scouting and preparation for the first couple rounds. With the extra team in the mix, the possibility exists that all three division winners would not know who is coming their way until the wild card teams were done playing. This is not a huge deal, but with the system the way it is now, the teams have at least 3 or 4 days to get all their personnel decisions made. Seems like this would shrink a couple days with one more team. Ultimately, this is minor compared to the importance of playing well at the right time…

  11. dasher521 - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    NO! NO!! NO!!! NO!!!! NO!!!!! NO!!!!!! NO!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!! (One for each inning!) Stop trying to turn a great game into some other sport.

  12. wonkypenguin - Nov 16, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Or we could just make it so that the four teams who DO make it are simply seeded 1-4 and everyone stops caring that the first round might be intradivisional. I hate the idea of two WC teams and most DEFINITELY hate the idea of a one-game playoff. But maybe we should be thankful that he’s not proposing a home run derby on the Tuesday after the regular season with one player per playoff team represented to decide home field advantage. Gotta take what we can get.

  13. JBerardi - Nov 16, 2010 at 10:19 PM

    You guys need to stop being such babies about this. If this is done right, it’ll give the best teams an actual incentive to win their divisions, something they don’t have now. That’s a huge plus to me. It needs to be harder to win the WS as a wildcard than as a division winner. And what’s the downside? MORE baseball? Oh, horror of horrors…

  14. mvd513 - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:14 AM

    8 regular season double-headers would ensure the season ends around September 20/21. After 1 off day, 5 game WC playoff with no days off, over on 27th. 7 game Division Series starts on 29/30th, followed by LCS and WS, and even with each series getting two days off, the postseason is over by Halloween.

    • mvd513 - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:14 AM

      Though I’m fine with everything how it is. And honestly, they could play in December and I wouldn’t give a shit.

  15. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    I’m guessing, by the Band-Aid on Bud’s forehead, that a disapprover has already met with him.

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