Major League Baseball is reportedly "seriously weighing" an overhaul of the league's playoff structure, and it would include some radical October changes. The proposal would expand the field from five to seven teams (three division winners, four wild card teams) in each league, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The reported proposal involves a bye for the top team in each league, a three-game wild card round series and the chance for teams to pick their opponents.
Here are the highlights from the proposal laid out in Sherman's report:
- Seven teams from each league make postseason
- Teams with best record in each league get wild card round byes
- Two other division winners and top wild card team host all games of three-game series in wild card round
- Two other division winners get to pick their wild card round opponents (during a live broadcast) from three other wild card teams, the top wild card team plays the unpicked team
- Three series winners and team with a bye advance to divisional round
This would be a monumental change from the current MLB playoff format (five teams from each league, one-game Wild Card Game), and Sherman reports that the league could implement it starting in the 2022 season.
Let's use last season's National League playoff picture to illustrate how it might work.
The Dodgers had the best record, so they'd get the bye to the divisional round. The Braves had the next-best record, followed by the Cardinals. The wild cards, in order, would've been the Nationals, Brewers, Mets and Diamondbacks.
The Braves would then get to choose their opponent from between the bottom three wild cards. Next up, the Cardinals would then choose between whoever the Braves didn't pick among the Brewers, Mets and D-Backs. Whatever team wasn't picked would then face the Nats.
Former Miami Marlins president David Samson reacted to the idea of a 14-team playoff format on Tuesday's Nothing Personal with David Samson.
On the positive end, having more teams involved in playoff races down to the wire is certainly good for the game and it's possible it would put an end to widespread tanking.
On the negative end, well, there's pretty much everything else. I've long enjoyed Major League Baseball have the most difficult playoffs for which to qualify and we're removing emphasis on regular-season excellence with more playoff teams. Not only that, look at some of the possible matchups from last season. The Yankees were 19 games better than the Red Sox and they'd need a three-game series win just to make the divisional round? C'mon.
We all know what tends to win out here, though, and that's the almighty TV dollar. If the networks want a show, they might get it. However, any changes to the playoff structure would have to be agreed to by the players union in the next CBA. The current CBA expires after the 2021 season.