Selig: Playoff expansion to get 'pragmatic' look
Commissioner says many factors to be considered before adding
ARLINGTON -- Major League Baseball will take a "pragmatic" look at whether it's feasible to expand the postseason playing field by two teams this offseason, Commissioner Bud Selig said prior to Game 4 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark on Sunday night."I've said we're going to look at it very seriously," Selig told a group of writers after the presentation of the Hank Aaron Award. "There are a lot of considerations, there's no question about it. The pragmatism is what's most difficult. The question is how do you do it and what form does it take? A lot of people have different opinions." Under Selig's direction, MLB introduced a Wild Card berth to each league, the three-division setup and three-tier playoff format for the 1995 season. That gave baseball eight playoff spots -- four in each league. From 1969-93, only four teams were involved in the postseason, that following nearly 70 years when just the pennant winners in both leagues met in the World Series. Selig was criticized at the time, but the playoff expansion has grown so much in popularity that now he's considering having 10 of the 30 teams in the playoff mix. Whether the two additional Wild Card teams compete in a one-game play-in or a best-of-three first round is yet to be determined. "I was very careful. I said it was a matter of pragmatism," Selig said. "You know how I feel about playing baseball into November. And you can be assured that the clubs do not want a shorter [regular] season. There's no sense misleading each other about that. I'm a devotee of a shorter season, but they're not, especially as local TV ratings have gone up, you're talking about a lot of money." The matter has been discussed by Selig's special committee studying how to improve the game, a committee that includes a number of managers, general managers and executives. Selig said earlier in the World Series that he intends to call the next meeting of that group in November. The general managers meet again with the owners and Selig at Orlando, Fla., from Nov. 15-19. Selig said it's possible that the format could change in time for next postseason, but the issue must be collectively bargained with the Players Association and likely will be discussed during next year's negotiations for a new Basic Agreement. The current agreement expires on Dec. 11, 2011. Michael Wiener, the executive director of the union, said during the World Series that there's a division among the players whether to move forward on the concept, but they are open to talking about it. The regular season is also beginning a week earlier next season so that the World Series is scheduled to conclude before the end of October. This is the second consecutive year that the Fall Classic will finish in November. Taking that into consideration, how another round of playoffs fits into the mix is the most significant problem. Selig has considered expanding the playoffs in recent years and recognizes support for that possibility has increased. "We have to work our way through a lot of things," Selig said. "Do I like the idea? Yes, I like it enough that I'll seriously consider it."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.