Could Selection Sunday be coming to Major League Baseball?
MLB is considering a significant restructuring of its playoff format, one which would begin with a dramatic live television show during which two teams from each league would have the ability to select their first-round opponents.
The proposed format, which has been gaining traction among owners and within the Commissioner’s Office, would see the total number of playoff teams in each league increase from five to seven, with the Wild Card round expanding from a one-game playoff to a best-of-three series. The new format could go into effect as early as the 2022 season.
The league’s potential plan was first reported by the New York Post.
Here’s how the new format would work:
The team with the best record in both the American and National League would receive a first-round bye, automatically advancing to the Division Series. The other two division winners would host all three games in a best-of-three Wild Card round, as would the Wild Card team with the next-best record.
Three other Wild Card teams would also advance to the best-of-three round, though none would host a game.
The division winner with the second-best record in the league would then get to decide which of the bottom three Wild Card teams it wants to play in the opening round -- a decision that would be aired on live television on the final Sunday night of the season, just hours after the regular season concludes.
Last season, the Astros would have been the AL’s No. 1 seed based on having the best record in the league, while the Yankees, Twins and Athletics would have hosted three-game Wild Card series.
The Yankees, by virtue of their No. 2 seed, would have then been charged with the assignment of picking their opponent from the grouping of the Nos. 5-7 seeds, which would have been the Rays, Indians and Red Sox.
Once the Yankees had chosen their first-round opponent, the Twins -- who would have been the No. 3 seed based on winning their division -- would then have chosen between the remaining two teams to set up their best-of-three series. The remaining team would then be matched up with the No. 4 seed, who would host all three potential games in the opening round.
Last season, the Mets and D-backs would have been the Nos. 6 and 7 seeds in the NL, respectively, as both teams ended the year on winning streaks that pushed them past the Cubs in the final standings.
The addition of two more postseason teams in each league would keep more teams in the race throughout the season. It would also give teams more incentive to fight for the best overall record in their league, which would be the only way to advance to the Division Series without playing in the Wild Card round.
The best-of-three format in the Wild Card round would set up the potential for as many as 18 first-round games, 12 of which could be elimination games. Every Game 2 would be an elimination game, while a Game 3 would then serve as a win-or-go-home series finale.
As part of the change, MLB would also eliminate any Game 163 tiebreakers, using the season series between clubs to break any ties.