x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Expanded play-offs: better races, more viewers

Change is coming to the post-season format. That much seems clear after a week in which Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner, and Michael Weiner, the union chief, publicly supported the idea, without offering specifics.

Change is coming to the post-season format. That much seems clear after a week in which Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner, and Michael Weiner, the union chief, publicly supported the idea, without offering specifics

Selig believes the television networks, which drive much of what happens in pro sports, are in favour of more teams and more post-season games. Weiner said enough players support an expanded play-off field.

It remains to be seen whether the system can be changed for the 2011 season, or not until 2012, after the next round of collective bargaining. Also to be determined: the new format. A popular suggestion is to add another wild-card team in each league and have the two wild-card teams meet in a one-game play-off. That would limit extending the play-off calendar - already, baseball will begin in March next year to avoid having the World Series leak further into November - and place more emphasis on finishing strong in the regular season.

Under the current format, there is little incentive to win a division versus winning a wild-card spot. The only difference is an extra home game in a play-off series. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees treated the American League East title with indifference down the stretch.

But if teams know that a one-game play-off would make-or-break their season, they would do everything possible to avoid being relegated to wild-card status, making the final weeks of the season more compelling.

sports@thenational.ae