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GM Meetings: Buena Vista Toward Inevitable

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig speaks at a news conference during baseball's general managers meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.(

Commissioner Bud Selig’s plan to expand baseball’s playoffs to 10 teams seemed inevitable after little to no opposition emerged during meetings this week with owners and general managers in Orlando, FL.  Baseball’s labor contract runs to December 2011, so the extra round of playoffs is not likely to start until 2012. Selig said his special 14-man committee will discuss adding two wild-card teams when it meets Dec. 7 during the winter meetings in nearby Lake Buena Vista.

“We will move ahead, and move ahead pretty quickly,” Selig said Thursday after three days of meetings concluded.

A change would have to be approved by owners, who next meet Jan. 12-13 in Paradise Valley, Ariz., and by the players’ association, which has said it is open to the extra round. The additional games also would have to be sold to baseball’s national television partners and slotted into a crowded schedule that already has pushed the World Series into November in the past two years.

“I’m not going to rule out anything,” Selig said. “We’ll just proceed and whatever we decide, then we’ll just see how fast we can get it done. Once we pass something, I’m always anxious to get it done.” Selig’s committee includes managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland and Mike Scioscia, and former manager Joe Torre, who recently stepped down from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Assumedly, the proposal includes  two wild-card teams in each league, and those wild-card teams would meet in a Best of 5 head-to-head series to determine which advances to division series with the three first-place teams in each league. Presumably this would take a week following the end of the 162 game regular season and would push the World Series one week further – completely into November.

All-November World Series

“I think it’s definitely worth looking at. I have no problem with that,” Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner said. There seems to be reasonable support among owners for this additional revenue-generating venture. When the wildcard and NLDS was introduced in 1995 baseball purists were shouted down by greedy team owners who saw the profit value. This also was the general consensus in 1969 when the LCS was introduced among divisional play. Some would have the new round be best-of-three, and others would have it as a one-game winner-take-all. The mechanics and logistics appear to be at issue more than the concept of playoff expansion.

“I pretty much know where all the constituencies are now,” Selig said. “Eight is a very fair number of playoff teams – but so is 10.” Before leaving the meeting, Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan agreed with the premise that the extra round of playoffs was beneficial.

Umpires gesture to have ground crews tend to the mound during the fifth inning of game five of the Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 27, 2008. The Phillies lead the best-of-seven game series 3-1. The game took 3 days to complete due to weather delays

Baseball doubled its postseason teams to four in 1969 and again to eight in 1995, a year later than intended because of a players’ strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series. The vote to first add wild cards took place in September 1993.

“I got ripped and torn apart, and it was pretty bad,” Selig said. “If I had defiled motherhood I don’t think I could have gotten ripped any more than I did. But now it’s fascinating to me. Now they not only like it so much, they want more of it.” The regular-season schedule will almost certainly not be reduced from 162 games, ensuring an all-November World Series.

Selig’s committee also will discuss whether to expand video review of umpires’ calls, which began in August 2008. Its use has been thus far limited to whether potential home runs went over fences and were fair or foul.

Grounds crew positions a tarp over the infield as rain falls during game five of the Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Oct. 27, 2008.

“It doesn’t hurt to expand it some and have it for a few other things, like plays at first base,” Steinbrenner said. “I’ve always been for as much instant replay as you can get in a sport. The NFL, at least, has that right.” Selig has said he’s against an expansion of replay but willing to consider it.

“There are opinions everywhere on that,” he said. “Managers have opinions. General managers have opinions. Owners have opinions. I want to hear them all and look at them.”

A consensus also appeared to have developed to propose a slotting system for amateur draft picks and possibly a worldwide draft when collective bargaining begins next year.

While there is a sense the NFL, the NBA and the NHL could be headed for labor strife, baseball players and owners anticipate stoppage-free bargaining. Baseball hasn’t had a strike or lockout since the 7½-month walkout in 1994-95, and Selig termed current dealings with the union “a constructive relationship.”

“Nobody ever could have dreamed we’d have 16 years of labor peace,” Selig said. “In American labor history, as I someday will say if I ever get around to writing my book, it probably was as bad a relationship as ever existed.”

Selig also said:

-Baseball’s revenue will total nearly $7 billion this year, a record.

-He was declining comment on Anheuser-Busch’s lawsuit against the sport, which accuses MLB of improperly trying to back out of an April agreement to extend the company’s exclusive sponsorship deal.

1969 World Series

It is naiveté to think that MLB owners care about anything so much as they care about revenue. It is equally foolhardy to think that MLB doesn’t look at the NHL, NFL and NBA and realize that more playoffs generate more revenue. Does anyone care about the integrity of the baseball regular season? The NFL season is 16 games. NBA and NHL are 82 games. MLB plays a 6-month, 162 game schedule to determine the best teams. In the 41 seasons of the LCS Era and the 16 seasons of the Wildcard/LDS Era, how many times have the two best teams squared off in the World Series? How many times have the teams with the best record faced one another in the League Championship Series? Another round of playoffs simply waters down the pool of playoff teams, negates the importance of the 162-game season and makes it possible for a team to simply “get into the tournament” and get hot in October.  I’m not averse to the best teams being determined on the field of play, but after these teams play a 162-game schedule, haven’t we done that? Now we are asking these teams to play 162 games to get to the postseason and then need to win another 11 games in order to be crowned champions. Are the San Francisco Giants the best team in Major League Baseball for 2010? No but they won the World Series and to do so they beat the Texas Rangers. The best teams were the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins, who had the best regular season records. San Francisco beat the Phillies in the NLCS. The next-best record belonged to the New York Yankees, who lost to Texas in the ALCS. Maybe it is just as well. If Philadelphia and Minnesota had made the World Series it would have been in November – possibly in a driving blizzard. Maybe MLB can work out a deal with the NFL to balance the Thanksgiving Day television coverage?

A marching band leads the San Francisco Giants during a ticker-tape parade celebrating their baseball World Series win, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 in San Francisco. The Giants defeated the Texas Rangers in five games for their first championship since the team moved west from New York 52 years ago.

Morning: Thanksgiving Day Parade

Noon: World Series

3 PM – NFL Game # 1      6PM-NFL Game #2          8 PM – NFL Game #3

What Can Be Done???

Start the regular season two weeks earlier. Have every team play Sunday doubleheaders per month which offers either a Thursday or Monday off day. Do not under any circumstances reduce the number of regular season games! However, maintaining the 162-game schedule with doubleheaders and trading two weeks of Grapefruit League and Cactus League games for meaningful games would help. Finally, TV networks cannot be permitted to insert off days in the postseason to accomodate their TV schedule. Maybe this will bring the World Series back into October even if Com-MESS-ioner Selig and Friends insist on trying to ruin the game.

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Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me

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In response to “GM Meetings: Buena Vista Toward Inevitable”

  1. Joseph Davis Nov 23 20103:38 am


    I’m bracing myself cuz it looks like it will happen. Baseball needs more playoff teams like Chris “The Bird” Andersen needs more tattoos.
    This all stems from the fact that the Yankees (2008) and Red Sox (2006, 2010) do not make it every single year like they’re supposed to. It’s no different than when they adjusted the Veterans Committee a while back because not enough guys were “getting in”.
    Chris, by 2025 or so, MLB’s postseason will resemble the NBA’s. And the NFL will be playing 20-game seasons.

    1. Christopher Rowe Nov 23 201011:13 am


      I’m afraid to say you may be right. Maybe it is because we grew up in the “LCS Era” or perhaps every generation feels a loss when what they know falls by the wayside, but I think that four postseason teams out of 24 or 26 teams isn’t bad. Compared to 16 of 30 or 32 in NHL and NBA which is insane, it seems rather pedestrian to have 8 of 30… but it still is disconcerting. Especially when you consider the value of a 162-game schedule. Why not just cut the season down to 82 games, have 16 teams make the postseason – and then make the second half of what used to be the regular season “the postseason?” Seems like hockey fans are OK with it! They like having 2 months of playoffs with the possibility of a 7th and 8th seed meeting for the Conference Championships. Hey why not create a tournament as some of the baseball philosophers like to call it. We’ll make a 16-team bracketed tournament like NCAA basketball used to do!!

      So that will happen, the NFL will have a 20-game season – with 30 players on IR per team unless they go to the two-hand touch rule – and Viagra will be advertising on jock straps worn on the outside of uniforms. Fantastic!

  2. Greginator Jul 8 20117:41 pm


    This putrid SOB better not expand the MLB postseason again (which means he will). The only acceptable practice would be to add a wildcard playoff round consisting of a Best of 3 series between the two wildcard teams to determine who would play against a division winner. There are too many wildcard champions and is seems there is no incentive to win a division. If that disincentive remains then abolishing divisions and taking the four best records in each league would be fine.

    Actually I’d like to see a format where the lower seed (wildcard or division winner with lesser record) has to win one more game than the higher (team with better record) seed. For example… Red Sox win division, Yankees win wildcard. Red Sox would have to win 3 games in ALDS while Yankees would have to win 4. Another option would be to afford the wildcard no home games in ALDS or NLDS until they win a series.

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