MLB plot playoff expansion – with reality TV twist


Imagine a team picking their playoff opponent. Think Brian Cashman and the Yankees who decide whether to face the Red Sox or avoid them in the first round of the postseason. Everything live on TV.

Well, the big leagues are likely to come soon.

As of 2022, the MLB is seriously considering switching from five to seven playoff teams in each league, Swiss Post has learned.

In this concept, the team with the best record in each league would be reunited to avoid the wild card round and move directly to the Division Series. The other two division winners and the wildcard with the next best record would host all three games in a best-of-three wildcard round. The bottom three wildcards would not have home games in the first round.

The division winner with the second best record in a league would then receive the first selection of his opponent from these lower three placeholders, then the other division winner would choose and play the last two placeholders against each other.

To take last season's AL as an example, the Astros with the best record would have received the reunion. The Yankees with the second best record would have had the choice to choose from the Rays, Indians and Red Sox. Boston had the worst record in this group. Would the Americans pick them up or avoid the luggage of a series with their rival? It would create a lot of strategy and interest, and MLB wants to sell that. The twins would then choose the other division winner next, and then the A with the best wildcard record would play the team that was not selected by the Yankees or twins.

It is planned that all of this will be played on a show on Sunday evening, when the regular season ends, and representatives will select teams on live television – think of the NCAA selection show, but only with the teams that make the selection. The rights to this show are part of the temptation of potential TV partners.

Wild changes could lead into the post-season of the MLB.
Wild changes could lead into the post-season of the MLB.AP

Fox's new agreement with MLB to remain the exclusive broadcaster of the World Series, Division Series and League Championship Series will run until 2028. However, MLB's agreements with ESPN and Turner will run until 2021. So MLB can Extending playoffs as a lure for new contracts with MLB One of these networks – remember that ESPN can also offer network television with ABC – Both networks or neither at a time when streaming power packs such as Amazon, DAZN etc. also bid could.

This fulfills the requirements of the networks: 1) post-season inventory and 2) as many clinch scenarios as possible. There would be six best-of-three series. Game 1 would be playoff inventory, game 2 would be a clinch scenario for a team, and if there was a game 3 it would be a sudden death for both clubs. The three winners of the round would join No. 1 in the Division Series. In addition, since the sudden wildcard death in 2012, many team officials had complained that no team should be eliminated in a game. So this system would at least give a team the chance to recover from poor performance.

Any change in the playoff format must be negotiated with the union. The CBA – like the TV deals with ESPN and Turner – will expire after the next season. In theory, however, additional playoff teams should provide elements that the union has requested. More playoff openings would motivate more teams to try out, which should mean less tanking.

If more teams are viable for the playoffs, they will spend more to chase a place. A club that projects internally to 81 wins, for example, would consider whether they could advance to 84-85 and even be one of seven playoff teams per league. In addition, teams that played for a wild card were reluctant to spend as they feared that the one-and-done format could make raising the payroll too risky. Will the chance to participate in a series – even one that is only the best of three – lead to higher expenses?

MLB also hopes that more playoff openings will increase fan interest. Participation declined for the seventh time in a row in 2019. Many factors have contributed to the decline, but it's clear that so many teams give up their playoff goals before or during the season. MLB wants as many games as possible to play a role in regular time.

In this format, it is a great advantage to finish with the best record in a league and avoid the first round. The teams will play hard until the end to achieve this. Winning a division has great advantages because you can only play this first round at home and choose your opponent. And it's an advantage to have the best placeholder record because you have the first round at home. In addition, there would be no tiebreaker 163 games. To make regular time more meaningful, the team that won the season against their opponent would benefit from whether they got the first place on the starting line or just the last wild card. So if two teams complete the fourth wild card and both score 84 wins, the team that won the season will enter the playoffs.

MLB also understands that there is currently a constant struggle not only to expand its fan base but also to keep what it has. The NFL is getting closer to the start of spring training when it comes to a 17th game with a third goodbye week. The NBA weighed off the mid-season tournaments or reduced the number of pre-Christmas games to escape the shadow of the NFL, which could potentially push the NBA playoffs back into July.

All of this makes MLB think about improving its playoff content, with the belief that it will increase interest among fans and broadcast partners.