(L-R) Rob Manfred, Bud Selig, and Michael Weiner at the announcement of the new MLB
labor deal. As part of the agreement, a decision on expanded playoffs in 2012 needs to be
determined no later than a week from today. Selig is pushing for that, but will it happen?
It’s often been said that what Bud Selig wants, he normally gets. That can be both good and bad. In this instance, the jury is still out.
As part of the new labor agreement, a decision on adding additional Wild Card play-in games in each league will be determined no later than March 1 (one week from today). The decision has to be made with sign-off from the union for the players.
It’s not a slam-dunk. The schedule for the season has already been made meaning that to bring in the two teams (second-best overall record among clubs that do not win a division) that would play for the right to advance to the Division Series is a tight squeeze. That’s not going to be easy when factoring in tie-breaker scenarios for the regular season.
Still, Selig is pushing for it and the 2012 schedule is being looked at every which way to make it happen. While Selig hasn’t said why he is pushing so hard to make it happen now -- as opposed to next year after the Astros move to the AL West, which balances the schedule out --money is likely a good part of the equation.
The new postseason games add extra television and gate revenue to the league. Current broadcast partners FOX, ESPN, and TBS will most assuredly bid for the right to air the “winner moves on, loser goes home” bit of “sudden death” baseball about to unfold in the league on a regular basis.
These Wild Card play-in games have the capacity to sling-shot interest into the rest of the postseason. This year means more as current national broadcast agreements with the league expire at the end of 2013. Currently, those deals are worth approx. $660 million annually, but are expected to skyrocket with the next agreement. Having ratings and viewership up in 2012 could help push the needle up for MLB as negotiations hit.
Is that Selig’s reason for the big push this year, as opposed to 2013? Maybe. It certainly has to be part of the equation. Whatever the reasoning is, we’ll all know no later than a week from today. Knowing how baseball has functioned from a labor perspective, an announcement before that deadline seems a very real possibility.
MORE DETAILS ON EXPANDED PLAYOFFS IN MLB AS THEY BREAK
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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