MLB Proposes Radical Overhaul to Playoff Format


Jacob Durbin

The MLB is considering a massive revamp of its current playoff format. For the last 25 years, the
bracket has included 8-10 teams; each division winner from the National League and American
League, along with the team with the best remaining record, also known as a Wild Card. In 2012,
the MLB added an additional 5 th playoff team in each league to play the 4 th seed in a one game
playoff known as the Wild Card Game.
In this new proposal, the playoffs would expand to include 14 teams (7 from each league). The
Wild Card Game would be eliminated entirely, replaced by a first round of three Best of 3 series
in the AL and NL. The #1 seed in each respective league would receive an automatic bye to the
second round. An interesting component is what occurs with the other 2 division winners; they
get to pick their opponents in the first round, leaving the remaining Wild Card teams to play each
other. an event that would be broadcasted on live TV on the eve of the last day of the regular
season in an NCAA Selection show-type presentation. After this round, the teams are re-seeded,
similar to the NFL format, with the lowest remaining seed playing the #1, and the two remaining
teams playing. This second round would remain the traditional Best of 5 division series round,
and later be followed by the Best of 7 LCS and finally the Best of 7 World Series.
Many speculate this desire to change is fueled by a push for increased viewership. Many fans
don’t become heavily invested in baseball until the postseason, as the 162- game regular season
tends to drag quite a bit at times. The commissioner of baseball Rob Manfred stated that this new

change, if implemented, could lead to a reduction in the amount of regular season contests.
However, this decision would need to be approved by the players and would come later as a
result of the new system, likely not taking effect until a much later date.
A few significant figures in the baseball world have come forward with their thoughts on the
proposal; while some fans and media seem to like the idea, most players that have spoken on the
issue have responded negatively. The most notable of them being Reds SP Trevor Bauer, who is
almost notorious for speaking his mind. Bauer had this to say;
“No idea who made this new playoff format proposal, but Rob is responsible for releasing it, so
I’ll direct this to you, Rob Manfred. Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on
twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.”
Bauer also addressed other concerns, stating that the MLB is attempting to correct the wrong
issues. He suggested the main issue with MLB is a stingy social media policy, restricting the
release of highlights with a strict copyright policy. As a result, the MLB misses out on a market
that is overwhelming dominated by the younger generations, a demographic they’ve
continuously failed to win over. The MLB consistently sports the 3 rd place position among the
Big 4 sports in the U.S., only outplacing hockey, a sport that is #1 in Canada.
In the current situation, it’s obvious the MLB needs to adapt fast if it hopes to hold any
significant space of the sports market for the next 20 years. Whether that includes a new playoff
format, a new social media approach, or additional expansion, change seems inevitable for future
generations to experience baseball on a national scale.