SBD/Issue 36/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Selig Seriously Considering Adding Two Wild Cards For Playoffs

Selig To Study Expanded
Playoffs This Offseason

Addressing a subject of intense media interest in recent days, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig last night leveled perhaps his strongest statement to date in favor of adding two wild card teams to the postseason format. "Do I like the idea? Yes, I like it enough so we'll seriously consider it," Selig said of adding a wild card team in each league. Expanding the playoffs, however, remains under study and no certainty exists for when and even if a decision will be made. Enlarging the playoffs is additionally subject to collective bargaining with the players' union. "I said before that we're going to look at all of it, and we are," he said. "There are a lot of considerations, there's no question about it. The pragmatism is what's most difficult. ... The basic question is whether eight of 30 teams [making the playoffs] is fair." As has been the case, an expanded playoffs would need to fit within Selig's desire to end the season before November and clubs' resistance to eliminating regular-season games. The issue will be discussed further at owners' and general managers' meetings slated for Nov. 15-19 in Orlando (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Selig said that it is "possible that the format could change in time for next postseason, but the issue must be collectively bargained with the Players Association and likely will be discussed during next year's negotiations for a new" CBA. MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said that there is a "division among the players whether to move forward on the concept, but they are open to talking about it" (MLB.com, 10/31).

PLAYERS REMAIN DIVIDED: Weiner said that "a 'substantial number' of players favor the addition of a second wild-card team to the playoff field." He added that a "'consideration that a lot of players have' is to help a team such as the Rays, who are constantly battling the financial behemoths of the AL East." Weiner noted that "not all the players agree with increasing the field from the present eight, as some take a bigger picture and longer-term view of what's best for the game." In St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin reported the players "will seek to form a consensus at a December board meeting in Orlando then come up with a preferred format (a one-game play-in, two-of-three, etc.) and structure" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/31). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote, "I can't wait for the first Thanksgiving World Series." He added, "Apparently, three playoff rounds and more than $6 billion in annual revenue -- about three times what the game brought in before the Division Series were added -- is not quite enough to keep the yachts and the private jets gassed up. ... The baseball postseason is just fine the way it is. There's no compelling reason to add any more playoff teams" (Baltimore SUN, 10/31).

WHERE'S THE BUZZ? YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote the Rangers-Giants World Series is "narcoleptic ... beyond the cities involved." It has "less buzz than a dead bee." And it is "not just TV ratings or coastal biases," it is the "issue that cuts to the core of Bud Selig's supposed golden age." Passan: "For all the gaudy attendance numbers put up in the regular season, MLB's inability to retain casual fans during the postseason is harrowing. Baseball has turned into an April-to-September pastime, one with such strong regional ties that it backfires when the sport goes national. As inconsequential as television ratings are to anybody beyond Fox, they provide an unbiased barometer of interest. ... It's one thing for LeBron and Co. to steal headlines from baseball's marquee event; it's another for it to happen in the first week of an NBA regular season that long ago lost its import. This is the World Series, and baseball is third fiddle" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/31). In N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote it is "staggering to still hear about the lack of competitive balance in the major leagues even as the Rangers and Giants play in the World Series." Sherman: "When people talk about a competitive-balance problem, I think they mean a Yankees problem, since they are the financial outlier of the sport. ... MLB still comparatively hangs in just fine against the NFL when it comes to competitive balance" (N.Y. POST, 10/31).

New MLB Rule Prohibits Teams From Taking
Drinks Onto Field As Part Of Celebrations

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: In N.Y., Tim Arango in a front-page piece reported MLB is "making its latest attempt to crack down on the alcoholic version" of postgame celebrations. MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations Rob Manfred said that the league two weeks ago "quietly issued new guidelines to teams." Teams now "must limit Champagne; offer a non-alcoholic version; beer and other types of alcoholic drinks are banned; and teams are not allowed to bring the drinks on the field." Manfred: "We have concerns that these celebrations that have traditionally been held not get out of hand. This is an issue that we periodically revisit." Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent said, "The celebrations are unattractive in large measure because they involve alcohol. It's ritualized, and I think it's silly" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/31).

RETIREMENT PLANS: Asked if he was bothered that nobody believes his oft-stated plan to retire at the end of '12 when his current contract expires, Selig said "No. I don't even really think about that. It's something that may have bothered me back in the '90s, but not now" (Fisher).

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