Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bud Selig: MLB Playoff Expansion Possible

The idea of expanded playoffs seems to be inching closer to reality, with the subject on the agenda for Bud Selig's special committee next month at the winter meetings.

Selig, who met with the general managers and owners over two days, said Thursday that both groups had discussed the idea. He seemed to indicate that there was support for the general concept of adding two wild card teams.

"Eight is a very fair number, but so is 10," Selig said.

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president in charge of labor relations, had said on Tuesday that it would be tough to implement any changes in the playoffs by 2011 because it is during the current collective bargaining agreement. Selig agreed, although he wouldn't rule out anything.

"We'll just proceed, and whatever decide, we'll get it done as fast as we can," he said.

The obstacles seem to be whether the two wild card teams would meet for one game or a best-of-three series, and if it's the latter, how to minimize the impact of the extra off days on the division winners.

"There are a number of issues," Selig said. "Not that we can't solve them, but I want to be very careful."

Next up will be the discussion by Selig's special committee, which includes several managers, former managers, executives and owners. The committee, which was first assembled in December 2009, will also address the instant replay situation during the winter meetings, Dec. 6-9 in Orlando.

Selig said expansion of instant replay was not discussed at all during these meetings, but it remains a possibility.

In one way, changes to instant replay would be easier to implement than changes to the playoffs, because they don't need to be negotiated with the players. On the other hand, there are more variables and little consensus.

"There are opinions everywhere," Selig said. "Managers have opinions. General managers have opinions. Owners have opinions. I want to hear them all and look at them."

Otherwise, Selig gave his standard speech about the health of the game. He said baseball's revenues were around $7 billion, and that "these have been the best six years in baseball history," considering the attendance relative to the economic backdrop.

Selig said there is no desire among owners to reduce the number of games in the regular season or to shorten the length of the season by playing more doubleheaders.

He also said there was no discussion on his special committee that has been researching the Oakland ballpark situation for the past 20 months. Selig had said last month that the committee's work would be done sometime after the World Series.

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