Bud Selig: MLB Is Considering Adding Playoff Teams, Additional Wild Cards

Commissioner Bud Selig was on hand for the opening of Target Field in Minnesota Monday where the Twins hosted the Red Sox. He spent some time in ESPN’s broadcast booth to talk about many of the issues facing the game. Selig discussed the League’s drug testing policy, MLB’s efforts to get more African-Americans playing the game, the plight of small market teams, and the issue of playing the World Series in November, amongst others. I could do a separate post on each issue in baseball but I’ll stick to the possibility of MLB expanding the playoffs for this one. Here’s how the conversation went between play-by-play man Dan Schulman and commissioner Bud Selig in the bottom of the second inning:

Schulman: “Do you see any change in the playoff format? Do you ever see another Wild Card team?”

Selig: “Well, I remember all the abuse I took about the Wild Card to begin with and now everybody wants more. I would like to see more. You know we only have eight out of 30 — the least number of any sport — we have the most direct playoff system. It’s something we’re going to consider. In some ways I like it, in some ways I don’t. It’s very attractive.”

Mr. Selig, for all the complaints I have about baseball (the W.S. ending in November, the strong correlation between high payroll and long-term success, instant replay), the playoffs is where baseball has it almost perfect. I am a champion and proponent of systems that highly reward strong play during the regular season as MLB’s currently does. Four teams out of 16 in each league works perfectly for me. Just having the Wild Card in addition to division races means many teams are still involved in a playoff race the entire season and that keeps fan excitement up. The only playoff change I would want is expanding the Divisional Series to best of seven, not five. I hope that will be addressed in the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations. But please, please, please don’t expand the amount of Wild Cards — the playoff system is excellent as is.

I’ll tell you something that would be great to drive fan interest and excitement and help break up the 162 game schedule. I would divide the regular season into two halves the way they do it in the minor leagues. Fans across baseball love the feeling of starting fresh and having hope on Opening Day. Wouldn’t it be great to have that feeling a second time each year? It would make the trade deadline strategy much more complex too. Top two teams each half make the postseason and in the case of repeats, it then moves to the team with the next best record. Then you seed them 1-4 based on best overall record, just like the current system. I think that would really break up the length of the 162 game season and create a lot more interest.

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  • Steve DelVecchio

    Never thought of that about switching to the minor league system. I like it. I know I get all jacked up at trade deadline time, and that’d just make it better…

  • SpinMax

    more important

    1. salary cap
    2. salary min
    3. full rev sharing
    4. end guaranteed contracts
    5. blood testing
    6. then get to playoffs

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    The details would still have to be worked out — keep division alignments the same or combine them the way it used to be — but I think the concept would be an improvement.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Oh yeah, creating equal ground with a cap and floor are critical. People love to point to the Rays as an example of how the little guys can compete. I think a better example is the Indians. A game away from the W.S. three years ago and forced to trade back-to-back Cy Youngers because you can’t afford them. They’re in utter rebuilding mode for the second year in a row. Now that’s B.S.

  • http://www.fantasybaseballdugout.com Jonathan Bentz

    Larry – taking the minor league system of first half champs and second half champs and putting that in MLB is a joke. Say the Yanks crush it for 81 games and win the first half… then what? The whole second half their games are meaningless.

    I think the luxe tax has done a pretty good job of keeping payrolls in order. The big markets are still spending, sure, but I doubt I’m the only one who’s noticed that the Phils and Yanks have a stacked farm system now, too.

    I’d like to see transparency in revenue sharing and a salary basement so that the small market teams actually have to spend their mills of rev share on talent at the MLB level or on MiLB development. The Hot Stove season has become a joke because the big FAs just wait for the Sawks and Yanks to throw $ at them, and then the rest of the mid-level FAs are left to sign with the 28 other teams.

  • Ghost Runner

    I’m intrigued by your idea of using the minor league split-season format as well, but it would expand the playoffs to 6 teams in each league (8 if you maintain a wild-card each half) without realignment. I’d like to see realignment into two divisions in each league. This would allow the two winners of each half to qualify and if the same team wins their division in both halves the team with the best full season record qualifies as the other entry.

    Another advantage of realignment into two divisions is it would allow for a more balanced schedule.

  • http://dodgers.com OldBrooklynFan

    Teams should play more games with teams outside their divisions and less with teams within their division.
    I think we have enough teams in the postseason, I see no reason to add more.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    For the two half system, you could combine divisions and condense things. For Jonathan, if the Yanks crush everyone, don’t they coast the final month of the season as is? What’s at stake is the top overall seed ensuring homefield advantage if they get the best overall record. Not to mention personal goals and statistics which is enough motivation for anyone. I have a hard time seeing fans tuning out once their team has clinched — they’ll be excited if anything.

  • N.

    I would say the easiest thing to do that would return at least a modicum of parity would be to end the unbalanced schedule. It shouldn’t really matter – especially to the high payroll teams. But for the other teams, it represents a ray of hope. I’m an Orioles fan – and it’s just absolutely brutal that a quarter of our games are against the Yankees and Red Sox. Even if we managed to get lucky, it’s kind of pointless because you’re not going to get that lucky. I love baseball, I love the Orioles, but I’m really getting to the point where I just don’t care anymore. Is that good for baseball?

    So trim the 38 games a year against the highest payroll teams in the history of mankind as a start – and put in any sort of revenue floor and ceiling/sharing you want. Without it, there will soon be a grand total of like 8 cities in the country that give a flying fig about what happens with the National Pastime.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PICPQWHGD72EDKKPXWN4NUG72M Jake

    They need to even up the teams in the AL & NL, AL West with only 4 & NL Central with 6, thats not fair when these teams are competing for playoff spots & division titles. They also need to add playoff teams & use the same format the NFL does for playoffs. The 1 & 2 seeds earn a bye as a reward for their great seasons & the other 8 teams play best-of-5 in 1st round & best-of-7 next 2 rounds. Nobody complains about the NFL having 12 out of 32 teams make the playoffs, saying they need to cut out some wildcards & shorten the playoffs. You dont hear complaining about the NBA having 16 of 30 teams get in, nobody saying to cut some teams out of there & shorten those playoffs. The NBA playoffs are the longest & yet, arguably, the most exciting playoffs in all of sports!?! You know why there isnt complaining? Cuz its the Playoffs!!! the most exciting time of the season!!! More playoff teams means more exciting games for the fans, more players having a chance to win a Title after a long hard fought season, & more money generated for the league. A lot of teams who finish with a winning record, (& sometimes a better record than another division winner in the playoffs might have), & are just as deserving of a chance to compete for a Title… are left out. This robs the fans, (who make these sports possible) of seeing their teams who have winning seasons, compete for a Championship. We’ve all seen wildcards & lower seeded teams in other sports, make it to Title games or series, & even win it all. It just doesnt seem right waiting through a 6 month baseball season only to see 8 teams get in for about a month of playoff baseball. After that long of a season, these teams who battled & finished with winning records & had a good year, deserve a shot. How does a team who finishes 15-20 games over .500 get left out, but the Cardinals can win their division only 4 games over .500, & then go on to win the World Series?!… its not right. Cut boring Spring Training down a week or 2, (its too long anyway & too many players get hurt in meanigless games), to make up for the extra week or 2 of playoff baseball. I think any baseball fan in the world would trade a week or 2 of Spring Training for an extra week or 2 of playoff baseball. Its good for these players to get a chance at greatness & history, its good for MLB from a business standpoint, & most of all, its good for the FANS, to be rewarded after a long 162 game regular season, to see their teams compete & to see a few more games of playoff baseball… the most exciting time of the year in any sport!!!! Im just another huge fan who loves baseball & i would absolutely LOVE to see more playoff baseball!! Make it happen Commissioner, you did once before.