x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Team owners must allow expanded play-off

Franchises must look past their bottom lines and focus on what is best for Major League Baseball.

As recently as last month, Bud Selig, the commissioner, termed the likelihood of an expanded play-off format "inevitable" and, indeed, all signs pointed towards an extra wild card team in each league being added for the 2012 post-season.

But reports now suggest that the expanded play-off is not so inevitable after all, and may be, at minimum, two years away. The issue is that the Players Association - which must approve any change - wants to tie the issue of an expanded post-season to fairness in the regular-season schedule.

That means going to six five-team divisions and a more consistent schedule that has teams from the same division playing the same opponents.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Not to the owners, however. To get five teams in each division, someone has to move to the American League West (which has four teams) from the National League Central (which has six) and no one is volunteering.

Some owners in the NL Central complain that too many road games would be played in the Pacific time zone, hurting television ratings.

Those concerns are valid, but surely something can be done to solve the issue. Instead of worrying about individual concerns, the big picture must considered.

Shouldn't the overall health and growth of the game be the overriding factor here?

Selig must find a way to get the owners to look past their own bottom line and focus on what is best for baseball as an industry.

sports@thenational.ae