This has been talked about since late last season, but today MLB commissioner Bud Selig gave the greatest evidence to date that baseball's playoffs will expand next year (quote is in that link, via SI.com):â†µâ†µ
"I would say we're moving to expanding the playoffs, but there's a myriad of details to work out," Selig said Thursday at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. "Ten is a fair number."â†µâ†µâ†µ
â†µSelig said scheduling is the major issue of discussion, including how many games the new wild-card round will be. The two wild cards in each league would meet, and the winners would advance to the following round against division winners.
In that Baseball Nation link, Rob Neyer first asks the question of what a "fair" number is; one thing that would be in favor of expanding to a second wild card is that it would make it much more important to win your division. Last year, with the Yankees and Rays both in the playoffs, it didn't really matter who won the AL East; all that was at stake was home field. That could make a difference, but home field in baseball isn't what it is in the NBA or NHL.â†µâ†µ
Here's the bigger issue, according to Neyer:â†µâ†µ
Major League Baseball undoubtedly doesn't want to push the World Series into November; that's why this season began on a Thursday in March. Schedule-wise, the most elegant -- and as it happens, the most dramatic -- solution would be a one-game playoff between the Wild Card winners.â†µâ†µâ†µ
â†µBut any change in the postseason format must be collectively bargained, and one can imagine some union resistance to a one-game playoff ... "You want us to go through the whole season playing our tails off, actually qualify for the tournament, then maybe go home after one game?"â†µ
â†µThere's yet another issue, though: Anything but a one-game playoff -- say, a best-of-three series -- means the division winners are idle for at least three days, and probably four or five.
Good points. A "play-in game" could get great TV ratings, but is it fair to teams that played 162 games? But, that happens to teams now if they have to play a single tiebreaker game. And you can't realistically make division winners wait almost a week to play.â†µâ†µ
I'm in favor of it happening, but they've got to do it the right way. And with MLB, that's never a guarantee.