Starting in 1995 Major League Baseball introduced a new set of rules for the playoffs. They went from two divisions to three, and with three division winners now making the playoffs, rather than have a team get a bye they added a wild card team. That system lasted until 2012 when baseball added in a second wild card team. That’s still the system we have now – two wild card teams play a “winner moves on” game to take on the team in the league with the best record.

Well, that wasn’t enough for Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported on Monday evening that there’s a proposal out that that Major League Baseball wants to expand the playoffs again, this time having seven teams in each league make the playoffs. That’s nearly half of the league. And this plan would take over in 2022 if Major League Baseball were to have their way.

In this plan the team with the best record in each league would get a 1st round bye. The division winner with the second best record would then get to pick which wild card team they would like to play. The third division winner would then pick who they would play, leaving the two unpicked teams to play in the third “1st round” series. All of this “picking” would be played out on live television after the regular season has ended.

Baseball has plenty of issues that should probably be addressed. Making it so nearly half of the teams in the league make the playoffs doesn’t seem to be one that any person was asking to have fixed. Well, except for maybe one group of 30 – the team owners. For them, this means more baseball games in the playoffs, more ticket sales at premium playoff prices, and thus, a boatload of money that wasn’t there in the past. Aside from that, though, it’s tough to see what issue this is actually addressing. Was anyone out there wondering what the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks were going to do if they had made the playoffs? The 93-win team in Cleveland would have been an interesting addition in the American League, but the 84-win Boston Red Sox? Nope.

If there are going to be 14 teams that make the playoffs what is the point of the regular season? What we’d see is that the teams at the very top of the standings entering September would essentially go to week 16 and 17 models of NFL teams and just start sitting and resting half of their lineup for the last month.

Can you see an upside to the move to have seven teams in the playoffs? Do you think the “pick your opponent” thing adds anything to the situation? It just all seems like another way for Major League Baseball owners to suck every last penny that they can out of the sport while they still can – at least to this specific baseball writer.

60 Responses

  1. FreeHouse

    I agree 100 percent with Bauer on Manfred, he’s a joke! The playoff format is fine the way it is.

  2. Mike McSorley

    I think this could cheapen the regular season rather than enhance it. At some future date the proposal will be floated to use the regular season as one big elimination tournament. Each team that incurs say 50 losses is eliminated … season over. How do you think that will sit with those “tanking” teams?

  3. Steve Schoenbaechler

    This possible move by MLB is stupid, for all the reasons people can and will be described here.

    If MLB was going to do anything, it should be the “time issue”, what they have been trying to address, with the limited visits to the mound, pitch clock, etc.

    Another one, if anything, I would consider, would be varying the rules. What I’m talking about is like what the XFL is possibly offering this time round. For instance, the double forward pass. And, instead of just the typical “kick the extra point”, the teams have the option of going for 1, 2, or 3 points after the touchdown.

    What can be done along those lines with baseball? I don’t know. But, I’d be willing to listen. After all, in the art of brainstorming, you try to think of 100 crazy ideas as fast as you can, throw out caution. Then, you go back and take out those that are truly crazy. It only takes 1 or 2 to actually be “possible” or “interesting”.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      Or, even better yet, put Rose in the HOF, or something! The man has served his time. He deserves to be in there.

      • Ed

        Except for the whole part where he broke he rules on purpose, and was banned from baseball as a punishment. Sometimes people push so far, the other shoe has to drop, and they have to live with the consequences.

      • TBD

        Steve S
        What do you mean he has served his time ?
        I understand that gambling is legal. However, as far as I have heard Pete still gambles. To put him in the Hall of Fame while he is still doing the same thing that banned him from it, makes no sense to me.

        Others may disagree and are free to try to convince me otherwise.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        @TBD

        It doesn’t say “moral HOF”, it says “baseball HOF”. Fact is, there are people enshrined in the HOF who did nothing worse than what Rose did.

        @Ed

        I never said Pete didn’t do wrong, did I? I specified he served his time! People have cheated the game by taking steroids? What has the league done about that? What has the league done about the sign stealing?

        What Pete did didn’t cheat the game! These players are, and they are getting slaps on the wrists.

      • Gonzo Reds

        Pretty much the point I keep making, he’s done his time and there are players doing far worse than betting on your own team to win, and yet they aren’t even getting punished. Double standard plain and simple.

        Of course, even if he gets his ban lifted he’s going to face some HOF voters who have the same black and white mindset as Doug has (and that’s fine they have that right to feel that way). So, no guarantee he makes it in, especially right away. But think he should be given the opportunity at this point after all this time. I’m just as passionate in the opposition of Doug’s views and will continue to be so.

      • Ed

        Oh sure, I know what you mean! But folks aren’t voting McGwire, Canseco and company into the Hall. To my knowledge, those guys weren’t banned for life from the sport. Part of the reason may be that management and ownership were complicit in juicing these guys, and creating an environment where people felt like they needed to be juiced to succeed.

        With Pete, he knew what he was doing was wrong. He acted alone, he acted brazenly, and the subjective “he did his time” is somewhat false, because his time is whatever punishment the league gave him.

        All that said- on a personal level, I’d love to see steroid-era ball players in the hall. Pete not so much. You can’t give an inch when it comes to messing with the very foundation and cornerstone of the whole sport- if you let players gamble on the game, the potential for throwing the game will always be there. Black Sox, etc. good as he was, c’mon. It’s not like gambling hasn’t permeated almost every other sport- isn’t compulsive gambling supposedly what led to the murder of Michael Jordan’s father? The rule says don’t gamble. It wasn’t that hard for Pete to abstain. Excessive pride and arrogance got him where he is today, so why change the rules for him? A ban is a ban.

      • Michael

        Do we have to continue to fight about this every single year? I know this is a Red’s site, but this narrative gets old after a while. Pete will get into the HOF some day, after he is dead and gone unfortunately.

        Pete, as most Reds fans know, is a loose cannon. Knowing that, can you imagine if MLB let him back in to Baseball, and he gets elected to the hall and then has his induction day and gets to give a speech? There is NO WAY they would give him that platform as there is no telling what he might say at that point. As many of us would like to see and hear that moment, it won’t happen. Baseball will not let that happen.

        When Pete is dead, he will make the HOF. You can book that. Unfortunately, he won’t be around to see it and get the glory he deserves as the best pure hitter of all time. Everyone makes their own choices, and then you have to live with the consequences of those choices. Pete is living with his consequences every day. Baseball will celebrate him, without him there to enjoy it or screw it up.

      • swayback8

        @Ed

        Excessive pride and arrogance got Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire to where they are today as well. Which was around young Major Leaguers, coaching and influencing them. The Astros and Red Sox excessive pride and arrogance got them to where they are today, World Series champs. In all of their cases I would consider them thieves. Stealing a lot of money from fans and other teams. They don’t seem to be experiencing much punishment.

      • Ed

        @swayback- If the argument is “the steroid users weren’t sufficiently punished” I agree. That doesn’t mean you should void the consequences or Pete’s actions.

    • CI3J

      Here’s an idea:

      Every time your team hits a batter, in addition to the free base, your team also surrenders an out the next time they bat. Or, if it’s the bottom of the 9th, the hit batter now counts as two bases.

      Hopefully this would discourage all the ridiculous Hurdle-style bean ball and head hunting. Obviously, a free base isn’t enough of a deterrant.

      • Steve

        That’s stupid, because a lot of hit batters occur when the hitter is crowding the plate or leaning into the pitch.

      • Wayne Nabors

        But ed
        They did change the rules for him,that’s the point you do not get .up until 1991 any player banned from the game was eligible for the hall of fame,Fay Vincent had it changed to keep Pete out

  4. AirborneJayJay

    Yeah, I am not picking up what The Commissioner is laying down. It seems to much like a greed play and not what is best for the game.
    It also is a precursor for expansion to 32 teams and to have 8 four team divisions. Just like the NFL. They want a big time realignment of the divisions to make them more closely aligned geographically.
    There really is just one improvement needed on the current structure. Make the wild card play in game a 2 out of 3 series. Instead of a 1 game play in game. The Commish and the owners are going to far on this proposal. The backlash should be severe.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I can get behind the idea of making the WC round best of three. Agree that adding more playoff teams weakens the regular season.

    • Nick in NKY

      I, for one, have been on the expansion bandwagon for a while. A geographical realignment could have several positive outcomes: easier to see your home team on the road, less likelihood of important season or playoff games that happen on large time difference, easier travel on players…maybe others I’m missing or haven’t thought of.

  5. Klugo

    I think expanding the playoffs is a good idea. It gives more teams something to play for. I also wish they would shorten the regular season to 100 games. This would also give more teams a chance. Of course, they’ll never shorten the season. That’s money out their pockets.
    On the surface, I don’t really like the part of picking your opponent. I really wouldn’t be put in position to have to pick an opponent. It just gives them “bulletin board” material.

    • Klugo

      “…really wouldn’t like to be…”

  6. BigRedSteve

    I ran across the following headline on a website.

    “MLB Thinking Of Letting Teams Pick Their Playoff Opponents On A Reality Show Or Something Because They Find Their Own Sport Boring”

    I didn’t read the article. Just the headline should be enough to kill the idea.

    • Gonzo Reds

      Well, of course the Commish throws this idea out now that the big market Yankees and Dodgers are set to win 120 games each. Give them every advantage to get to and win the WS, as if they didn’t already have a huge advantage in what they can spend to get there.

      I agree this idea is bs and if the Commish thinks this is a good plan HE is a joke!

      • Gonzo Reds

        And to be clear… I’m referring most to the part where the Yankees or Dodgers could pick which small market team they wish to play.

        As for adding more playoff teams and shortening the season, no thanks. It’s been and will continue to be fine the way it is. That includes no DH in the NL!

        If they want to do something, make all the games more accessible on tv to all that want to watch them and start the playoff games earlier on weeknights.

  7. SultanofSwaff

    I love the NBA, and their playoff system doesn’t temper my enthusiasm for the regular season. I think there’s two kinds of fans—the hard core regular season crowd and the playoff bandwagon casual fans who are just there for the party. It’s smart to try to cater to both, but this proposal is a little wonky.

    With the Reds being a small market team, I support any effort to give these types of franchises something to root for each and every year, not every 7 years. I’m too old to endure those sorts of dry spells any longer. If the richer teams are allowed to spend unlimited sums and there’s no salary floor for rebuilding teams then these plans to increase parity will continue to gain traction.

    • VaRedsFan

      I concur with your Opinion Sultan

    • RojoBenjy

      I like the idea that more teams will have a post-season presence, but the more a sport gets to be like the NBA, the more hokey it gets in my opinion.

      It’s my opinion, so i’m not trying to start an argument. But to clarify, yes, I do think the NBA is hokey.

      • KDJ

        Do they still play NBA games? With so many entertaining NCAA basketball games, I haven’t watched NBA for over 20 years.

  8. Mark Moore

    DH … fine. Robot K zone … I’m good with that. Other tinkering … perhaps.

    This nonsense? It must be the high-end liquor talking. Manfred really thinks MLB needs to match up with the other 3 sports’ playoff insanity? Hard pass here.

  9. Bob Purkey

    Can’t wait to be playing in NY, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Denver and any other place above or near the Mason Dixon Line in December!

  10. Bob Purkey

    They’ve already screwed up baseball for about the last 2 generations now with a now meaningless all-star game where a pitcher can’t pitch more than 1 inning and World Series games that start at 9:20 on the East Coast. Let’s screw it up more. They are already going to add the DH shortly to the NL which the majority of NL fans don’t want, which will make the games longer than they already are. Expanding MORE instant replay while we all sit around and watch umpires listening on headphones to some clown in NYC?

    Sorry for the rant. . .

  11. Dick

    This proposed plan seems so incredibly stupid that I have to believe it’s just the set-up for a different move. In order to make some (more than likely) ridiculous changes to the post-season, the commissioner’s office leaks this nonsense so that they can later walk it back, thereby making their real intention seem like a compromise. Otherwise, this has to be a joke. While I firmly believe Manfred & Co. are out-of-touch with reality, I have a hard time picturing a board room discussion wherein a plurality of MLB gatekeepers say, “Yep! That sounds like a great idea Rob.” G-d help us all!

  12. RedNat

    I actually think expanding the playoffs is a good idea. I like the nba model of seeding the top 8 teams from each league. Lets make mlb a year round sport. of course that would mean putting retractable roofs on every mlb stadium which honestly, I think mlb should do anyway with climate change.

    this would help a team like the reds who I really believe are committed to winning now on a consistent basis. in an expanded playoff system we may not always be perennial world series contenders but we would be playoff contenders pretty much every year. this would really help grow the fan base.

    • KDJ

      Enjoyed the satire. But would even this cause ESPN to expand coverage beyond 5 teams?

  13. Don

    great 2 to 3 weeks in September meaningless baseball for most teams as NFL season starts. Then go to October and add another 6 series with 3 to 5 games each which are 4+ hours long and adds 10 calendar days to the season to allow for maximum TV coverage (no two games at same time).

    The best record team in each league sits idle for a week or more.

    This will make for a great 2nd round. A worn out team vs a rusty team.

    This has to be a really bad joke

    Sound like great december

  14. Seadog

    I may be in the minority. I like the idea. Why not expand the playoff teams. There would be no more reason to sit players at the end of the regular season than there is now. On the contrary—I think it would be fun to see more teams scrambling at the trade deadline etc. thinking they have a shot at the post season. Pick your “opponent”. I like it. Would add intrigue. Imagine the Dodgers pick the Padres. Padres win. That would be fun. Yes, have a selection show. Why not? Both sides (players union/owners) should and will leverage this issue for changes they want. Shorter regular season, shorter spring training, expansion, DH, arb rules. It goes on and on. The game is changing. Have fun with it.

  15. Scott C

    I think it would cheapen the regular season. If we add to the playoffs in any way, then short the regular season back to the 154 game schedule. I do like a three game playoff instead of the sudden death wild card game we have now. But we add three teams, they will be playing until Thanksgiving.

    • Freddie

      My guess is that this proposal is part of MLB’s negotiations with the owners trying to convince them to shorten the regular season to 154. None of these leagues will sell owners on shortening the regular season without gimmicks like these to help make the owners whole. Someone in the negotiations opposed to the idea probably leaked it knowing that most fans would hate it. Or, like Dick said above, it is to help sell a slightly less ridiculous idea to come.

  16. Ben Rubin

    The only change I would make to the playoff format is to make the wildcard game a best of 3 series instead. One game is too much of a crapshoot.

  17. BK

    I like the expanded playoff. More teams competing for the postseason at the end of a long season equals more interesting games. More teams with a chance for the playoffs likely means more player movement at the trade deadline. That means the weak teams gathering prospects faster and the downsides of the competitive cycles being shorter.

    Not a big fan of the pick your opponent concept–this just seems quirky and someone insulting to the first team “picked”. I like a first round best of 3 games where the higher seed gets to be the home team. This works well in the NCAA.

    MLB owners are supposed to look for ways to grow revenues and increase interest in the sport. I think adding a playoff team would promote competitiveness across the league while reducing tanking.

  18. Frostgiant80

    I would like to see the one game wildcard playoff become a three game series. Other than that I am fine with the playoffs as is.

    • Tomn

      Agree with making the 1 game WC a 3 game series. To condense the time, I’d have the first two games in the home park of the team with the better record (or via coin flip), then take extra travel time. If there needs to be a game 3, play it in the other team’s park. Worse case, leave everything as is.

      So sick of the constant tweaking with the game though.

    • Bob Purkey

      Only one problem with the 3 game playoff. . .it could take 5 days to complete. You CAN’t give 1 team games 1 & 2 at home, so you have game 1, travel day, game 2, travel day, game 3 and any weather (geez, who would think of bad weather in October?) This just drags the playoffs even longer

  19. IndyRedsFan

    My first reaction was like many of you….totally against.

    But, as I’ve thought more about it, I can see some positives.

    1) More teams with a chance to make playoffs, the longer some teams remain “in the hunt” therefore more fan interest.

    2) Everyone hates to see teams “tanking”. With more playoff opportunities, the less the motivation to tank.

    3) As the result of #2above….. more teams going for it means more teams trying to sign good players…..which likely means higher player salaries, which means the players will likely be supportive.

    I agree that if they do expand the playoffs, all the playoff games should be at least 3 games. Given that, I do think the season will need to be shortened back to 154 games. This would also provide teams/owners with an additional incentive to make the playoffs…….to recoup the $$ lost with the loss of the 8 regular season games by replacing it with revenue from the playoff games.

    So…in short, I’m in favor of it as a way to motivate all teams to try to be competitive every year.

  20. David

    A more common sense change is to have 2 divisions instead of 3. Then have 4 wildcard teams who duke it out in a 3 game series. Division winners get a first round bye.

    • Eric

      Or expand by two teams (finding another two MLB cities wouldn’t be that difficult – pick an NFL or NBA city who doesn’t currently have an MLB team) and split into eight four-team divisions like the NFL has. But here, you wouldn’t have something ridiculous like the Texas Rangers (Cowboys) being in the American League (NFC) East Division.

      Where it would get interesting, though, is that I don’t think that simply being a division winner, in this model, entitles a team to a playoff berth. The divisions are simply for the purpose of scheduling…maintaining a particular order within the course of a regular season. But once you get to the end of the regular season, you *still* take the best teams from the AL and NL and build your playoff bracket. Top two teams from each league gets a first-round bye, seeds 3-6 play three-game series (yes…keep it short at the outset still, but not a single-game sudden-death matchup) to advance, divisional series is a five-game series, with the league championship series and the World Series (of course) both being best-of-seven.

  21. Tom Mitsoff

    This would make the season far too long. It would also create the absurdity of perhaps playing well into November in cold-weather cities that don’t have domed stadiums. Maybe they could move the World Series to the Tropicana Field dome for the ultimate fan experience. 🙂

    • RedNat

      or mlb needs to pay for all stadiums to have domes. transition baseball into a year round sport. I would like that!

    • Klugo

      Shorten the regular season. It’s WAYYY too long. Wrap it up by the end of August and get the playoffs cranked up.
      I do like the idea mentioned above of complete realignment of the leagues. 2 divisions. East and West.

      • Eric

        To shorten a season length that’s been in place since the early 60s would cause an unnecessary (IMO) cacophony of speculation – every season – about how many HRs, how many RBIs, how many stolen bases…you name the stat…that Player X WOULD have had, if they were still playing 162 games.

        No thanks. They’ve been playing this many for this long…they can keep on doing it.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      These proposed changes would have basically the same effect on the playoffs that has happened in the NBA with 16 of 32 teams making it. The first round becomes essentially meaningless and largely non-competitive, but the home teams get to charge premium prices for playoff tickets.

      • Klugo

        Best of 3 or 5 rather than 7 gives the lesser teams a prayer.

  22. greenmtred

    Baseball is having problems attracting fans–particularly young fans. The season is interminable. The games last for hours and hours. The strategy for winning–correct as it probably is–reduces or eliminates some of the exciting types of play. In my opinion, baseball will never again be the most-watched sport, but keeping a reasonable fan base that isn’t my age is going to require a lot more than gimmicks, and I consider anointing mediocre teams–sometimes with losing records–as playoff teams to be a gimmick, and a transparent one, at that. I’d shorten the season. 154 games sounds about right. I’d consider having only the World Series, with the regular season winners of the two leagues–reduced to 8 or 10 teams each–playing.

  23. James

    I think most people are missing the most compelling reason to make this change: best record becomes key. First round bye for best overall. Then the division winners and top wild card team host all of the wild card games. No resting players, unless a team is way ahead in the race. Lots of teams fighting for position down the stretch, whether to get in or to move up into home games.

    Another change I would love to see: top draft pick goes to the best record that did not make the playoffs, then work down from there. Then go up the playoff teams to the best record. No more tanking. You’re welcome Rob. (Even though I saw this idea somewhere else.)

  24. Still a Red

    What say do the fans have? Seems to me, if the majority of owners thinks this means more money, it will happen. Too bad!

  25. centerfield

    If MLB is trying to attract younger fans, they need to address the length of the game. Maybe go to 7 innings, limit trips to the mound, eliminate replay, shorter time between pitches, shorter time between innings. I’m sure there are many more things they could do to speed up the game. Playing baseball until late November isn’t going to help. Also if you want to attract younger fans, make it affordable for them to attend the games and especially the playoff games. Too much owner greed in play here.

  26. Earl

    MLB and NBA have too many games that really don’t mean that much.

    I think it would be better to do something new like a single elimination mid-season tournament with the final four and ‘cup’ championship paired around the Allstar game in the middle at a neutral site. Final four is played as a doubleheader.

    Mid-summer classic…

  27. JayTheRed

    To me this would ruin the validity of a team being a playoff team all together. I am barely ok with having 2 wild card teams. I feel like this would simply make it so teams would not have to go all out to make the playoffs.
    Team A says well we can go out and spend some money on acquiring new players but we don’t have to break the bank and get the top guys to get into the playoffs.
    It should be rare itself for wild card teams to even make it to the playoffs in my opinion. Occasionally sure it can happen. It did this past season. But if it would start happening more often, I agree the regular season seems more of a moot point.
    I don’t want to see the last two weeks of the season being played by a bunch of bench players or callups Though the new roster rules would protect that some.
    Overall I just don’t feel like it would make me anymore interested in baseball, If anything it might turn me away a little.

  28. Dick Paterson

    If this happens, we will have fully descended from “playoffs” to a “tournament.”