Major League Baseball is reportedly considering an expanded playoff scenario that includes more teams, a first-round bye and the ability of some teams to pick their opponents.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote Tuesday that MLB is “seriously weighing” the postseason overhaul, beginning in 2022.
Under this plan, the playoffs would be expanded from five to seven teams in each league. The team with the best record in each league would get a bye into the Division Series, while the two other division winners and the wild card with the best record would each host a best-of-three series against the bottom three wild-card teams.
The reality-show-style twist is that the division winner with the second-best record gets to pick which of the three-lowest wild cards it wants to play — and it would do so on a live Sunday night show that could be attractive to TV partners.
The other division winner would then pick among the remaining two wild cards, leaving the remaining two wild-card teams to face each other.
Sherman writes that the TV partners would be satisfied by having more playoff inventory and more clinching-game scenarios, as there would be a total of six three-game series before the Division Series in each 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,” Sherman wrote. “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.”
He notes that in this scenario, there would be added incentive to keep pushing for the best record in the league, thereby earning a bye, and to be the top wild card, ensuring a home series for the first round.
Also, there would be no 163rd game to determine a playoff spot, with the regular-season series serving as the tiebreaker in all scenarios.
—Field Level Media