By Scott Mandel
Major League Baseball is mulling significant changes to its postseason, including increasing the number of teams from 10 to 14 and adding a reality-TV-type format to determine which teams play each other in an expanded wild-card round, sources told ESPN.
MLB is considering a move in which each league would have three division winners and four wild-card teams make the postseason, sources said. The best team in the league would receive a bye into the division series, while the two remaining division winners and the wild-card team with the best record of the four would each host all games of a best-of-three series of the opening round.
The potential changes were first reported by the New York Post.
Once the teams clinch, and the regular season ends, the plan gets congested:
- The division winner with the second-best record would select its wild-card opponent from the three wild-card winners with the worst records of the four.
- The team with the worst record of the three division winners would pick its opponent from the remaining two wild-card teams.
- The final matchup would pit the wild-card winner with the best record against the wild-card team not chosen.
All of the selections, sources said, would be unveiled live on television the Sunday night of the final regular-season games.
The winners of the wild-card series would advance to the divisional round. Currently, two teams from each league play a winner-take-all wild-card game, and the winner faces the team with the league’s best record.
The appeal of the changes, according to the Post, is twofold. It potentially would increase fan interest, and could benefit MLB via richer television rights package.
Deals with ESPN and Turner both expire after the 2021 season.