There has been a lot of speculation since the end of the winter CBA meetings late last year, if the new playoff format will come into play this season or next. All of the lingering questions can be put to rest, because Major League Baseball is set to announce that playoff expansion is slated to start this year, not in 2013. That announcement should come sometime today.
Official details have yet to be released, however it is believed that there will be a one game playoff between the two wild-card teams, which will determine who will face one of the three division champions in the ALDS. Could this be a good thing? The players seem to think so.
According to the Heater Blog, Rays third baseman, Evan Longoria, said of the change,
“It’s exciting for all of us. … I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end, to hold on to those playoff hopes for longer.” He went on to say, “I think it was pretty unanimous around the league that the more playoff spots the better,” he said. “Once you get into the playoffs it’s more revenue for the ballclub, it’s more excitement for the players, so I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.”
Though, there is some trepidation over the one game do-or-die playoff format.
“I wouldn’t mind two out of three, but at least it gives you a shot to get in,” RHP James Shields said.”
Shields sentiment seems to be shared with many others that would have liked to have seen a best of three series. And for better or worse, a one game format effectively forces teams to win their divisions if they have any hopes of staying in the playoffs for the duration. But when you take into consideration all of the positives that this new format presents, it’s not hard to conclude that his could potentially turn out to be a better, fairer, system…at least for smaller market teams like the Rays and Brewers, or for teams that seemingly got the short end of the stick last season.