On his first day as executive director of the Major League Players' Assn., Michael Weiner agreed that the postseason schedule needs to be tightened and, at the same time, said that there is sentiment among the players' executive board to increase the divisional round to best-of-seven series.
Commissioner Bud Selig said last month that he is personally going to take a swing at tightening the postseason schedule for next fall after complaints this year of too many days off.
The Angels, for example, played only eight games in 20 days going into Game 6 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees. Beginning on Oct. 13, the day after they eliminated St. Louis, the Phillies played only 12 games over 23 days through the end of the World Series.
"I think everyone is in agreement that the postseason schedule is in need of adjusting," Weiner said on a conference call Tuesday formally unveiling him as Don Fehr's replacement. "I'm a hockey fan as well as a baseball fan, and the [postseason] pace is what you would expect in hockey, not baseball."
Weiner said he is happy that Selig said he intends to look into tightening up the postseason schedule.
"We have to be respectful to our television partner, but we have to be concerned with the competitive aspect as well," Weiner said.
That said, Weiner acknowledged that expanding the divisional series from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format was another issue raised by the executive board of the players' association at its meetings this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"There's a lot of sentiment for a seven-game series," Weiner said. "I think, if properly constructed, we could accommodate a seven-game series [in the first round] and still have it end in a shorter period of time."
Weiner said that his feeling is that if there is to be a change in format, that would not be addressed until the next round of collective bargaining with the owners (the current agreement expires following the 2011 season).
The condensing of the postseason schedule, however, could -- and should -- come as early as 2010.
In other assessments during Tuesday's call with reporters, the 47-year-old Weiner:
• Acknowledged that the union is continuing to monitor the free agent market for signs of collusion among the owners. Some agents thinks there were some questionable maneuvers in 2007 and 2008, and Weiner said he's watching the slow pace of free agency this winter.
"Yeah, I’m concerned a little bit. It's been a little slow," Weiner said. "But it was a little late starting by virtue of when the World Series ended [Nov. 4]. That's something we may want to consider in bargaining, given that there are now three rounds of playoffs."
Weiner said with arbitration offers having been extended to players on Monday, the "landscape is a little more clear" now. "It's too early to draw any conclusions on how this will play out," he said.
• Said he and the union are open to a worldwide draft but continue to oppose a salary slotting system that owners want.
"We're willing to have all players without regard to their country of origin be subject to the same rules entering the game," Weiner said, nothing that it would mean an amateur player "from Texas as well as a player from the Dominican Republic" be governed by the same policy.
But as for a slotting system, he noted "we call it a salary cap" and said that's a different issue.
• Said he believes the current performance-enhancing drug testing system is "working great". And as for the continued concern over human growth hormone, he noted that "if a reliable urine test for HGH is developed, it would automatically go into place. It would require no modification in the agreement."
So far, that test has not been developed.