SBD/September 8, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Addition Of Second Wild Card Team To MLB Playoffs Appears Unlikely For '12

Uncertainty about realignment is slowing movement to expand MLB postseason
The details surrounding MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's plan to add a second wild card team to the postseason "remain cloudy enough that the chances of expanded playoffs next season are iffy at best," according to league sources cited by Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS. Selig said, "I hope to have it next year. It will depend on a whole series of things. The holdup is working out all the details." While collective bargaining talks have progressed "cordially, little movement has been made on the five-team playoffs because realignment remains unresolved." Sources said that "realignment is among the significant issues at the bargaining tables." Passan noted "hard slotting and the wild card are two of Selig's pet projects in this negotiation." Selig said that the second wild card "is endorsed by almost everyone in the game." That "makes sense considering playoff appearances stabilize the employment of general managers and managers while giving players an opportunity to earn beaucoup bucks." Still, Selig said that the proposal for the new format "does at times trouble him." Selig: "I agonize over it." But he supports the plan "nonetheless, even as the bargaining room teems with ideas and differences of opinion and questions as to how to format it." Passan noted Selig "doesn't know, and nobody in the rooms seems to, either, which, for now, leaves it in limbo and delayed, perhaps until 2013" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/7).

RUNAWAY RACE: In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote, "Bud Selig can sing all the praises he wants about the wild card, but for the ninth time in its 17-year history, it has turned September into a numbing succession of meaningless games for the Yankees and Red Sox." This year, the wild card "has done nothing to boost fan interest as both wild cards and five out of the six division races are virtually sewed up with nearly a month to go." Madden added, "Selig will never see his private dream of geographic realignment realized, in which all the big-market, traditionally high payroll eastern teams -- Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies -- are lumped into the same division. Nobody wants to be in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/5). Also in N.Y., Sean Forman asked, "With three and a half weeks of games to be played, how does 2011, with no race closer than three and a half games, stack up in the wild-card era through Aug. 31? It turns out this year is much less competitive than past years. Before this season, every playoff chase since 1994 has had at least one race in which the trailing team was within one and a half" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/4).
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