Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Official - 10 Team Playoffs Are Here

By Sean Gagnier

One of the most controversial portions of the MLB's newest collective bargaining agreement came in the form of the expansion of the playoffs from eight teams to 10. In the new format there will be two wild card teams that compete in a "play-in" game while the division winners enjoy a bye and wait for their match-ups.

This new format was announced many months ago but it had recently had a resurgence as the 2012 season approached and their still had not been an agreement that would implement the new format for the season. According to ESPN's Buster Olney the MLB Players Association and the team owners are close to agreeing on the proposal and making the 10 team playoff a reality.

Some have questioned the further expansion of the playoffs from the current eight teams to the new 10 - would it push the playoffs deeper into Nov.? Something that Commissioner Bud Selig despises. The answer is that it shouldn't push baseball any deeper into Nov. than it typically runs. Under the new format there is just one additional game added to the schedule and not a three game series that some had been proposing.

With this new wild card play-in game on the schedule it should allow for added intensity down the stretch as teams vie to be one of the last two in and battle their way to the World Series. It's become obvious that being a wild card doesn't necessarily handicap a team - in fact many wild card teams have ridden the hot streak that in most cases won them the wild card spot all the way to the World Series.

While some oppose the new 10 team format because they believe it will damper the intensity of the final weeks of the season as teams now have two wild card spots to aim for. It is hard to think that this will occur as it should stoke intensity as more teams will feel they have a chance to make the post season than in previous years.

Many argued against the addition of the original wild card teams to the playoffs but that has proven to be a good move for Selig and baseball, what's to say that this expansion isn't more of the same.

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