Expanded playoffs may be the right move for baseball

It looks like Major League Baseball is on its way to expanding the playoffs from eight to 10 teams.

MLB’s special 14-man, on-field committee, a group that includes Andy MacPhail and Frank Robinson, will meet on the topic at the upcoming winter meetings. Under the plan, there would be two wild-card teams in each league.

When I first heard of this talk of expanding the playoffs, my first reaction was negative. Were the powers that be in the game going to mess with something that is working well?

But now I think it may be a good move for the game.

The two-wild card teams in each league would meet with the winner advancing to join the three division winners. The wild-card teams would likely play in a best-of-three series.

Here are some reasons this could be a good move:

*Now, three AL East teams and not just two, could make the post-season. Under this format, the Yankees and Red Sox would have been the AL wild-card teams in 2010 and would have played in a best-of-three series with the loser out.

*Under the current system, while both the Yankees and Tampa battled late in the season for the AL East title, the race lost some drama because we knew both clubs would make the playoffs.

Under the proposed format, there is more of a premium put on winning that division crown. You would avoid that first-round series where you would use up some of your pitching before getting to the next round.

*This could create even more pennant races, so to speak. Were this format in effect in 2010, Boston, which seemed hopelessly out of the race in the final weeks, would have battled with the White Sox for that final spot. The Red Sox would have prevailed last year with 89 wins to Chicago’s 88.

One argument against this plan is that the three division winners in each league would likely be off until that first series ended. Those teams may have to sit around three or four days before playing.

But this would also help put more importance on being a division winner. Even if your team clinched the division on the last day and used a lot of pitchers in that final weekend, now, your club would have a few days off to rest up and better set up its rotation for the playoffs.

If they adopt this plan, I think baseball should then make one other change. The winner of that first-round, best-of-three, should then meet the club left with the best record.

If they are in the same division, so be it. Under the current format, the team with the best record doesn’t play the wild-card winner at the start if they are from the same division.

Under the proposed 10-team plan, I think the club in each league with the best record should be “rewarded” by playing a team that just finished a series and had to use up some of its pitchers already.

What do you think of the possibility of adding a playoff team in each league and the changes it may bring to baseball?

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