MLBPA: Bigger playoffs part of talks
The expansion of the baseball playoffs next year may not be as inevitable as commissioner Bud Selig made it appear last week.
Despite Selig's comments that baseball was moving "inexorably" toward adding two wild-card teams to the postseason field in 2012, union chief Michael Weiner told ESPN.com that the two sides have so far to go in negotiating expansion that "it's just too early" to predict anything.
"We've had healthy discussions at the bargaining table about a lot of different schedule formats," Weiner said. "Included in those discussions were several formats which expand the playoffs in one form or another. But neither side has made any proposals. So it's just too early in the bargaining process to predict or guess where it's going to land."
Weiner made it clear that the players are open to the possibility of adding more playoff teams. But any change would have to be part of a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires in December.
One of the players' chief concerns is not merely how the expanded playoffs would fit into the postseason schedule, but how they would affect the regular season, as well.
"Part of the complexity here," Weiner said, "is that we've got to bargain the entire schedule -- the structure of regular-season play, including interleague play."
Weiner's comments came in response to Selig's remarks last Thursday in his annual session with the Associated Press Sports Editors.
"I would say we're moving to expanding the playoffs, but there's a myriad of details to work out," the commissioner said Thursday. "Ten [teams] is a fair number."
An expansion to 10 teams would mark the first change in baseball's postseason format since wild cards were introduced in 1995. Under the new system, two wild cards in each league would meet in either a one-game playoff or a best-of-three series, and the winner would advance to the Division Series.
"The more we've talked about it, I think we're moving inexorably to that," Selig said Thursday.
Senior writer Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.
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