On the heels of our discussion about tinkering with the baseball playoff format last week, MLB Players Association chief Michael Weiner broached the topic in an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, before the start of the World Series. And his stance on the topic hinted at some of the things we were discussing - expanding the playoffs and shortening the regular season.
Weiner said there is "sentiment among a substantial segment of the players to consider expanding the playoffs," possibly by adding another wild card and/or making the Division Series a best-of-seven, instead of the current best-of-five format.
The collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players expires after the 2011 World Series, and any changes in the playoff setup would have to be part of the new CBA. Weiner acknowledged that shortening the regular season to allow for expanded playoffs would have "revenue implications for the industry."
My guess is, if the playoffs are expanded and the regular season is shortened, owners would push for some kind of central revenue fund from the extra playoff games or the TV rights to offset the loss of home dates in the schedule. If the schedule was cut back to 154 games, for example, each team would lose four home games.
Weiner also said there's a chance players will propose changes to the Super Two system, which has led numerous teams to leave prospects in the minors for the first two months of the season so the players wouldn't hit arbitration a year early. Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut on June 8 this season, though general manager Mike Rizzo said in June that arbitration was not a consideration in the decision about when to bring Strasburg up.