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Published April 27, 2011
TO EXPAND OR NOT TO EXPAND? ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark noted despite MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's “comments that baseball was moving ‘inexorably’ toward adding two wild-card teams to the postseason field” in ‘12, MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said that the union and the league “have so far to go in negotiating expansion that ‘it's just too early’ to predict anything.” Weiner “made it clear that the players are open to the possibility of adding more playoff teams.” But “any change would have to be part of” a new CBA. Weiner: “Part of the complexity here is that we've got to bargain the entire schedule -- the structure of regular-season play, including interleague play" (ESPN.com, 4/26). In N.Y., Joel Sherman noted what “remains in doubt is whether the wild card vs. wild card round will be a one-game play-in to the Division Series or a best-of-three.” Those advocating a one-game showdown “essentially do so for two reasons.” One reason is while MLB's TV partners “are not looking for many extra playoff games,” they do “like the ready-made, dramatic storyline and potential ratings of a sudden-death game.” Another reason is there are “concerns that adding extra playoff games will stretch the postseason calendar later, notably into November, which elevates the chance for bad weather.” Sherman wrote both arguments “collapse against doing what’s right, which is making the wild-card round a best-of-three” (N.Y. POST, 4/24).
GAME-CHANGER: MLB.com’s Hal Bodley wrote Selig is the “most innovative Commissioner baseball has had.” He “considers himself a passionate purist and a devoted historian of the game.” But he has “never backed away from making dramatic, if not controversial, changes.” Selig's legacy “will be all about improvements he's made,” and baseball “has grown tremendously during his reign.” Bodley: “Interleague Play has been enormously successful. Adding Wild Cards and expanding the playoffs has made down-to-the-wire September baseball exciting and more meaningful. Teams that previously would have been eliminated now have hope. Video replay has worked and, according to Selig, it's about to be expanded” (MLB.com, 4/25). SI's Joe Posnanski writes, "Nothing that Selig has done has come with trumpet blasts of celebration. It seems as if every advance, every change, every slight shift in baseball was stumbled into. But think about it. When Selig took over in 1992, baseball had 26 teams; now there are 30. Four teams made the playoffs; now it's eight. The players and owners were at each other's throats; now there has been labor peace for 16 years." Selig has "indisputably turned the game upside down" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 5/2 issue).