The Reuters global sports blog
Is more really better when it comes to baseball?
More is better, but how much more and how to dole it out appears to be the last detail before an expected expansion of the postseason playoffs in Major League Baseball.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters at the end of the recent general managers’ meeting in Florida that adding two more wildcard teams — one from each league — to bump up the postseason field from the current eight, was pretty much a fait accompli.
“We will move ahead (on it) and move ahead pretty quickly,” Selig said about the playoff issue. “Eight is a very fair number, but so is 10.”
Any changes would have to be approved at January’s owners meeting and because such changes have to be agreed with the players’ association a revision would probably come for the 2012 season at the earliest.
Baseball now adds one wildcard team to the three division winners in both the American and National leagues. Adding another wildcard team in each league would stimulate fan interest in more markets during the September stretch run and add another series to the postseason — a play-in showdown between the two wildcard teams.
Some envision a one-game playoff, others are suggesting a best two-of-three series between the wildcards.
One nagging question is how much of a good thing — playoff baseball — can be tolerated? The sport already has a six-month regular season and has seen the October postseason leak into November in recent years because of all the games.
Some suggest that baseball roll back its marathon season from 162 games to the 154-game standard that existed prior to MLB’s expansion in 1961. The added games that year led to the controversial ‘asterisk’ that was attached (and later removed) to Roger Maris’s 61 home runs that season that eclipsed Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 set in 1927.
When pressed at the general managers meeting, Selig said owners were loath to reduce the number of regular season games, saying lost revenue would not be balanced by added revenues from the added layer of playoffs.
Others have suggested squeezing more games in by playing day-night doubleheaders, which bring separate admission gates for the owners. The players would probably balk at too much of that as an unfair, ill-advised workload.
With the aim of keeping the postseason calendar within the month of October, baseball is starting next season on March 31 — a time of year when the weather can be even dodgier than early November.
Logistics aside, there has not been much clamor about diluting the postseason field as MLB would remain the one among North America’s big four sports leagues — MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL — to place the most importance on the regular season by limiting the number of teams that go on to compete for the sport’s ultimate prize.
If wildcards are added, baseball would have 10 teams of 30 advancing to the championship tournament.
The National Football League has 12 teams (eight division winners and four wildcards) from 32 advancing.
The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League both admit 16 of their 30 teams into the postseason tournament.
Is more better?
PHOTO: Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig poses at the “Stand Up To Cancer” television event, aimed at raising funds to accelerate innovative cancer research, at the Sony Studios Lot in Culver City, California September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok