Rather than simply increasing the number of playoff teams, MLB is thinking of introducing utter chaos to the postseason.
For baseball purists who were offended at the addition of first one Wild Card, and then a second… prepare to weep. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, MLB is seriously contemplating radical alterations to its current postseason setup.
The proposed changes begin by increasing the number of playoff teams in each league from five to seven. Each league’s top team would then get to skip the first round of the playoffs.
That sounds reasonable enough, but there’s more.
The resulting playoff round would be a full-on frenzy. It would feature best-of-three series between the other two division winners and the next four best teams in the league.
But it gets even weirder.
The remaining division winner with the better record would pick which of the three final Wild Card teams to face. The final wrinkle in this bold plan is that these opening series would all be home games for the hosts.
MLB is "seriously weighing" expanding postseason from 5 to 7 teams in each league, among other changes, per @Joelsherman1
– Team with best record in its league gets bye to Division Series
– Second-best record gets 1st pick of Wild Card opponent
– Matchups selected on live TV pic.twitter.com/GB6JfXgJtR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2020
Following that madness, the usual trek from Division Series to World Series would begin.
Per Sherman, these or other similarly alarming changes are “probably coming soon to the major leagues.”
He also pointed out that the collective bargaining agreement between the MLB and the player’s union ends in 2021. That means the two groups can hash out a new playoff format in time for the 2022 season.
There are definite advantages for both sides. The players receive a chance at more money from the added playoff games. MLB can make a ton of cash in TV deals with networks eager to host the new high-stakes games.
Of course, there are also negative factors. The first division winner that gets knocked out by a subpar regular-season team is sure to loudly complain. Also, extending the season for 104 players (assuming the playoff roster size is still 26 per team) is likely to produce extra injuries.
MLB seems intent on doing whatever it takes to compete with the other major US sports leagues. Hopefully, things don’t get too out of hand and make America’s Pastime unrecognizable.