Have You Heard About This Proposed Change to the MLB Playoffs?

ESPNMajor League Baseball is mulling significant changes to its postseason, including increasing the number of teams from 10 to 14 and adding a reality TV-type format to determine which teams play each other in an expanded wild-card round, sources told ESPN.

MLB is considering a move in which each league would have three division winners and four wild-card teams making the postseason starting in 2022, sources said. The best team in the league would receive a bye into the division series. The two remaining division winners and the wild-card team with the best record of the four would each host all games of a best-of-three series in the opening round.

Once the teams clinch and the regular season ends, the plan gets congested:

  • The division winner with the second-best record would select its wild-card opponent from the three wild-card winners not hosting a series.
  • The division winner with the worst record would then choose its opponent from the remaining two wild-card teams.
  • The final matchup would pit the wild-card winner with the best record against the wild-card team not yet chosen.
  • All of the selections, sources said, would be unveiled live on television the Sunday night of the final regular-season games.

I don’t like the idea of nearly half the league making the playoffs, but I do love that MLB is considering shaking *something* up. Baseball has been painfully slow to adopt any significant changes. Remember when they put in the rule that batters had to stay in the batters box and players immediately ignored it and MLB did nothing? Remember when MLB was testing a pitch clock in Minor League Baseball with the plan of then implementing it in the major leagues? That was in 2015. Whether it’s rules to improve pace of play or ideas of how to combat the culture of rampant sign stealing; baseball is afraid of change. So I am intrigued by this pretty radical shift in the playoff format. Baseball needs to become more like the NFL and try things out. Hell even the NBA tested a new ball in 2006, which was a complete and utter disaster, but the point remains; at least they tried something new.

My favorite part about this new format is it gives teams a real incentive to play for the No. 1 seed, which there isn’t really any of currently. Too many teams these days play out the string as they’d rather get their rotation set for the playoffs than try to win as many regular season games as possible. The new Wild Card format of the past few years has helped negate that a little bit, but a first round bye would have teams gunning for the top seed.

Another aspect that would be great is we would no longer have to hear the song and dance about how players don’t care who they’re playing in the playoffs. Bullshit! Now we’ll know exactly who you want to play and who you think is an easy out. Just imagine the Red Sox winning 100 games in 2022, 5 games out of the No. 1 seed behind the Astros, selecting the 90 win Twins for obliteration in the Wild Card round. How awesome would it be to see team officials cringe on live TV as their fates are sealed like an NBA Draft Lottery special? The reality TV aspect of it all just has me picturing Kramer hosting the Merv Griffin Show.

I am far from a baseball purist so count me in.

Not everyone is sold on the idea including Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer.

To be fair though, this is the guy who got scolded (and traded) by Terry Francona for launching a ball over the fence after getting yanked from a game. Seems like a guy who doesn’t take it well when things don’t go his way.

People who complain about changing the game forget just how much the rules have actually evolved, some faster than others, over the years. In 2011 the MLB added the new Wild Card format, the Astros changed Leagues in 2013, balls have been juiced and unjuiced, steroids were encouraged ignored then banned, the mound was lowered, and on and on we go. So testing out a little tweak to the playoff format is not going to have Branch Rickey rolling in his grave. It’s baseball, lets have a little fun.

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