Major League Baseball is mulling proposals to radically overhaul its post-season format, with new measures including an expansion of playoff places and allowing some teams to choose their opponents.
The format changes detailed in several US media reports on Tuesday would see the total number of playoff teams increased from 10 to 14 — with seven teams in the American League and seven teams in the National League.
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The overhaul, which would also see the wild card round switch from a one-off game into a best-of-three series, could go into effect from 2022.
The mooted shake-up is designed to prolong interest in the regular season, with MLB chiefs believing that having more teams fighting for playoff places may help staunch declining attendance figures.
One of the most controversial proposals under consideration is a made-for-television innovation that would allow some teams to choose their playoff opponents.
The division winner with the second-best record in the league would be allowed to choose which of the three bottom ranked wild card teams it wants to play in the opening round in a television event on the final night of the regular season.
News of the proposed changes provoked a broad backlash across social media on Tuesday.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer lambasted MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred over the proposals in a post on Twitter.
“No idea who made this new playoff format proposal, but Rob is responsible for releasing it, so I’ll direct this to you, (commissioner) Rob Manfred,” Bauer wrote.
“Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.”
Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius was similarly perplexed, writing on Twitter: “Why are we changing this loveable sport so much?”
Any changes to the post-season format would require approval from baseball’s players association and would need to be incorporated into a revamped collective bargaining agreement.
The 30 team owners would also need to sign off on the changes.
Sports Illustrated reported on Tuesday that MLB chiefs floated their plans “informally” before the players union at a meeting last month.
MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark said the union was open to discussions about increasing the number of teams in the post-season.
“Expanding the playoffs in a sensible way is something worth discussing when part of a much more comprehensive conversation about the current state of our game,” Clark said in a statement.