Major League Baseball is reportedly thinking about making some serious changes to its playoff format and when I say serious, I mean serious.
One of the changes would be increasing the number of playoff teams from 10 to 14 and the best team in each league would actually receive a bye into the division series. Each league would have three division winners and a total of four wild-card teams. Another twist is that the two division winners and the wild-card team with the best record of the four would each host all the games of a three-game series in the first round. These changes would take effect in 2022, per ESPN.
That’s just the start of these thought out changes.
The division winner with the second-best record in a league would get the first pick of its opponent from the lower three wild card teams, then the other division winner would pick, leaving the last two wild cards to play each other. Oh, and this would all be done on live television like some reality TV show the Sunday night of the final regular-season games.
The appeal of the changes, according to the New York Post, which first reported on the possibility, is twofold. It could increase fan interest and could benefit MLB via a richer television-rights package.
Any proposal would have to be negotiated with the players’ association. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2021 season.
These changes are certainly something. While my initial reaction was ‘oh, wow, maybe I’ll actually watch a playoff game before the World Series thanks to these changes’, players like Trevor Bauer and Didi Gregorius aren’t fans.
New York Post made a good point in its report suggesting that the more available playoff spots, the less tanking there should be around the league.
Any change in playoff format must be collectively bargained with the union; the CBA — like the TV deals with ESPN and Turner — expires after next season. In theory, though, additional playoff teams should provide elements that the union has been wanting. More playoff openings would motivate more teams to try, which should mean less tanking.
A change to the playoff format is probably needed, but these are certainly bold.