As first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB is considering some fascinating changes to their playoff structure, and not surprisingly, there are some who are already aghast.
The proposed restructuring would include expanding the playoff teams from five to seven in each league–or from 10 total teams to 14. In other words, each league would include three division winners and four wild card teams. Further, this restructuring would include a bye for the two top teams (one for each league), a three-game wild card round, and–most interestingly–chances for teams to pick who they would play.
If you are confused at this point, never fear. Here is a breakdown of how the new format, if approved, would work:
- 14 teams qualify for the postseason (seven from each league)
- The team in each league with the best record receives a bye into the division series
- The two remaining winners of their divisions and the wild card team with the best record (in each division) host all the games of a best-of, three-game series.
- Those two remaining division winners pick the opponent they face from the three other wild card teams, while the top wild card team plays the remaining wilcard team.
Sherman gave a good example of how this format would work using teams from last year's American League.
To use the AL last season as an example, the Astros, with the best record, would have received the bye. The Yankees, with the second-best record, would have had the choice to pick from among the Rays, Indians and Red Sox. Boston had the worst record of that group. Would the Yanks pick them or avoid the baggage of a series with their rival? It would create a ton of strategy and interest, and this is what MLB wants to sell. The Twins would then pick next as the other division winner, and then the A’s with the best wild-card record would play the team not chosen by the Yankees or Twins.
Where it gets even more interesting is that the selections would be made on a live TV broadcast on a Sunday evening during the final games of the regular season. Certainly, MLB would like to have a television event that goes beyond the boredom, for some, of the MLB Draft, and compete with the NFL and NBA.
The MLB Player's Association would have to approve such a change in the playoff format, and if green-lighted, fans wouldn't see the change until the 2022 season as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't end until 2021.
When you have taken a deep breath, centered your Chi, and finally wrapped your head around the proposed format, are you excited or sickened? All-Star pitcher, Trevor Bauer, wasn't shy in calling the proposed format, "absurd" and a "joke." But surely, the league isn't catering to players when bandying about these rule changes–it's focused on retaining it's fanbase.