Major League Baseball announced on March 2 that it has added two additional wild card playoff spots starting with the upcoming 2012 season. One wild card team will be added in both the National and American Leagues with a one-game elimination in each league. This will see a total of 10 teams make the postseason in the first change to the league’s playoff system since 1994.

The division winners of each league will wait to see who wins the playoff game between the wild card teams before the regular playoffs begin. The wild-card playoff games will be played on Oct. 5 this season, two days after the regular schedule ends. The World Series won’t begin until Oct. 24 in 2012.

Bud Selig, the commissioner of MLB, said he appreciates the cooperation of the players’ union in agreeing to the new format and said the feedback from fans, teams and league partners has been overwhelmingly positive. He said that two more markets will be able to experience the thrill of playoffs each year which will add to the excitement of league playoff races.

Both the League Championship and World Series formats are going to stay the same, but for the upcoming season only, the lower seeds will play the first two games at home in the five-game division series with the next three going to the higher-placed club. This has been done to eliminate a travel day if the series goes all five games. The current format will be used again starting in 2013.

If two teams are tied at the end of the regular season in the wild card race and division championship they will be decided by an extra game at the end of the schedule. In the past, two clubs that were tied for their division lead with one of them clinching a wild card berth, would have the title decided by the head-to-head record between them. Also, starting this season, a wild card team and division winner from the same division can play each other in the division series.

For instance, if the Red Sox finish with the top record in the AL and the Yankees win a wild card playoff, then the two teams would play each other in the division series. Winning a division title will allow the team to rest for at least two days before the division series get underway. Wild card teams will likely use their best pitchers in elimination games, putting them at a slight disadvantage for the next series.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last year after winning wild card berth in the NL against Atlanta on the last day of the season. Tampa also won the AL wild card on the final day when they beat Boston. In the new system, Atlanta and Boston would have also been included in postseason play as they would have played St. Louis and Tampa in a one-game playoff with the winners going to the division series.

After MLB had been looking at ways to expand the playoff field, the league and players actually agreed to the new format last year and it was to be put in place by next year at the latest. However, after working out all of the logistics, they decided to implement it this year. The previous system featured the three division champion making the postseason along with a wild card club from each league.

Between 1969 and 1993, each league consisted of two divisions and the winners of each division played off in the league championship series with the winners heading to the World Series. Before 1969, the World Series was contested by the top team in both the NL and AL.

Written by Ian Palmer via FeedCrossing

Written by FeedCrossing, Content News Source

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