x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ratings aside, tweaked MLB play-offs must be fair

Major League Baseball is looking into tweaking the play-off format as early as 2012, adding additional teams for a possible one game "play-in".

Speaking to newspaper editors last week in New York, Bud Selig, league commissioner, confirmed the obvious - Major League Baseball, he said, is moving "inexorably" towards play-offs expansion, probably in time for the 2012 season.

Beyond acknowledging that the MLB would add a wild-card team in each league, bringing the total of clubs reaching the post-season to 10, Selig did not confirm any other information about an expanded format.

There is talk that some television executives - and as always, their wishes will be examined - would like a one game "play-in" for each league between the two wild-card teams. Such a format - win or go home - would undoubtedly attract plenty of viewers without extending the already long play-offs schedule very much. Executives point to "play-in" games in recent years between teams with even records that offered thrilling competition and some of the highest ratings of the year.

But there are problems with such a format. After a six-month, 162-game season, a one-game play-off is not a fair way to decide who advances to the next round.

Think of the inequity for a team to win, say, 96 games as the top wild-card entrant, being eliminated by an 86-win team in nine innings.

If baseball is going to add another round of play-offs, a best-of-three series would offer plenty of drama - and some fairness, as well - without extending the schedule much beyond the current format.