Baseball Getting Closer To Extra Wild Card Playoff Teams

We are getting close to the first spring training games of 2012, just eight days away. We are also getting close to Opening Day, just 40 days away. And we are getting very close to a self-imposed deadline that MLB and its various entities had set for deciding whether baseball would add two extra wild-card teams, one from each league, to the postseason for 2012. That deadline is March 1, six days from now.

But we are now “likely” to have those added postseason teams. Jayson Stark:

With a negotiating deadline just days away, it now appears “likely” that Major League Baseball and the players’ association will reach an agreement to expand the playoffs to 10 teams starting this season, sources familiar with the discussions have told ESPN.com.

According to the terms of baseball’s new labor deal, the two sides are required to reach an agreement before Thursday or postpone playoff expansion until 2013. However, discussions to resolve numerous scheduling issues have “intensified” in recent days, said one source.

Deadlines like this aren’t something that have ever been really important to Bud Selig & Co., who have often postponed tough choices while they dither around. Here’s the primary issue:

The biggest problem the scheduling experts have faced is trying to fit the best-of-five Division Series into just a six-day window, so the League Championship Series can begin Saturday, Oct. 13. That would mean eliminating at least one travel day in the Division Series, a development that could lead to major travel and game-time issues.

Excuse me while I chuckle a bit over the term “scheduling experts” being applied to those who come up with baseball schedules as bizarre as the ones we’ve seen in recent years. They did better with the two college professors who used to lay it out on paper on their kitchen table.

Anyway, the point is, looks like it could happen. But for this one season, until the leagues realign and scheduling makes room for two wild cards in 2013, it could be a real mess.

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