MLB Discussing Significant Changes to Playoff Structure

MLB Playoff
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: The Washington Nationals celebrate after defeating the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros with a score of 6 to 2. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

MLB Playoff Proposal: A Drastic Change

Even though MLB Spring Training and the start of the 2020 season looms near, recent conversations have revolved around possible changes to the postseason format.

The big changes

First noted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, there are several proposed changes that would change the playoffs as we know it beginning in 2022.

  • The playoff field would increase per league from five to seven teams
  • The single-elimination wild card game would be replaced by a best-of-three series format with two division winners and three wild-card teams.
  • The team with the best record per league would receive a first-round bye
  • The division winner with the second-best record would get to pick their first-round opponent from three wild-cards.
  • The division winner with the third-best record gets to pick first-round opponents afterward

MLB would host a reality TV show on the Sunday night of the regular-season finale where teams would select their opponents. It would be in a similar fashion to the NCAA basketball selection show in March. There would also be no travel within the initial best-of-three series’ which would then open the door for back-to-back games. The goal would be to conclude before the Thursday of the when the Division Series is normally played.

The thoughts behind the changes

One of the main motivations for the change would have to do with a potential new broadcasting deal. In theory, the change would provide for more meaningful games late in the season. Theoretically, that would increase the importance of each game down to the final week of the season.

Another potential positive side effect from the changes could mean less tanking across the league. Right now as it stands, the MLB postseason has the fewest teams in a playoff format than any other major sport in the USA. Even with that said, 14 teams still constitute roughly half the league. On that same note, theoretically, a 70-win team could find a way into the playoff mix.

While nothing is set in stone just yet, it piqued some interest in players union head Tony Clark. It has its merits and its downsides but only time will tell whether a sport that lives in tradition will make this drastic of a change.

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