Playoff expansion from eight to ten teams was inevitable. It was definitely going to be in place by 2013. There were efforts to get it in place for 2012. Successful efforts, as it turns out. Though in theory Thursday was the deadline for an agreement to be reached, Major League Baseball officially announced on Friday that the 2012 postseason field will include ten teams, with two additional wild-card slots.
Part of the press release:
For the 2012 Postseason only, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds. This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to a decisive Game Five of the Division Series and was necessary because the 2012 regular season schedule was announced before the agreement on the new Postseason was reached. Next year, the Division Series will return to the 2-2-1 format used in previous years. Details on the scheduling of the new elimination games between each League's Wild Cards will be announced in the near future.
Scheduling was the big issue, as the 2012 schedule has long been set in stone. For this year and this year only, Division Series will be played in the 2-3 format, instead of the 2-2-1 format, (as reported by Amy K. Nelson and SB Nation first). The lower seed will begin with two games at home, and then the higher seed will end with three games at home. This change was made so as to eliminate a travel day. Baseball's gone with the 2-3 DS format before; personally, I'll never forget the 1995 ALDS between the Yankees and the Mariners.
Each league's two wild card teams will square off in a one-game playoff. The winner will advance and the loser will go home, as you do when you lose in the playoffs. I'm not entirely sure why there was such a sense of urgency here since the leagues are still unbalanced, but we've known for some time that this was coming.