Over at ESPN, Jesse Rogers has more of the latest on the proposal MLB’s owners have offered up as part of the ongoing Collective Bargaining negotiations.
Among them, a big expansion to the postseason, and a draft lottery (kinda):
News from @JesseRogersESPN: In a proposed playoff expansion, there would be 14 teams, division winners would choose their opponents in a three-game wild-card round and the best record in the league would get a bye into the division series. Much more info: https://t.co/YivuoSlyyz
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2021
We’ve actually seen MLB bandying about this postseason idea before (a few years ago). The idea is that you bump from five teams in each league to seven, with the top team getting a first round bye. The other two division winners get to pick their first round opponent from the four Wild Card teams (which is gimmicky, but kinda fun). And that round, which features three series of three games, is played entirely at the top seed’s home park. So, for example, if the Cubs won the Central with the second best record in the league, then they could pick, say, the 82-win Marlins to face in the first round for a three-game series, entirely at Wrigley Field. (That would definitely go well, right?!)
There are aspects of this setup that I like – strongly incentivizing the best record, and keeping the incentive to win your division – but, like most people, I just wonder if 14 playoff teams out of 30 total teams is too many. I think 10 out of 30 is too few (so many fan bases have nothing to root for after June), but 14 does seem like quite a leap. I’m still mixed on this.
As for the draft lottery in the proposal, it’s only for the top three spots. Basically, all the non-playoff teams would qualify for the lottery, with a chance at one of the top three picks. But after that, the draft order would proceed based on regular season record and then postseason finish. So if you finished with the worst record in the league, you’re still guaranteed to pick in the top four. Not sure how much that actually impacts tanking decisions (particularly in comparison to something like the hard draft slots/bonus pools).
Like the playoff thing, there are parts I like, parts I’m not sure I do. Mixed again.
Read the ESPN piece for much more on these ideas.