It’s official: New playoff system in place for 2012

Spring Training Game Thread: Baseball!
Open Thread: 3/3 Camp Notes

MLB officially announced yesterday that the new ten-playoff system will be implemented in 2012. The LDS rounds are going to a 2-3 format for travel purposes, meaning the team with the better record will play the first two games on the road and the final three at home. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. The 2-2-1 format will return next year thankfully. The LCS and World Series formats are unchanged. If two clubs are tied atop the division at the end of the season, they will play a one-game tiebreaker to determine the division winner even if both clubs are guaranteed to make the postseason as at least a Wild Card club. Head-to-head record doesn’t matter anymore. For more on the new system, read my post from earlier this week and Barry Bloom’s breakdown.

Spring Training Game Thread: Baseball!
Open Thread: 3/3 Camp Notes
  • First name only male (Retire 21)

    I don’t mind the new wild card as much as the rushed, poor implementation of it. Why not wait until the 2013 season?

    • whozat


  • RetroRob

    I was hoping they’d go one step further and expand the LDS to seven games.

    • Andrew 518

      At least that would do something. I can’t wrap my mind around the season is too long argument (then again I’m on a baseball blog in March). Seriously though, the season IS long. I don’t see how an additional three or four days is anything more than symbolic.

      True double headers on July 4th and Labor day seems like a strategy to me but Selig still isn’t returning my calls.

      One game “series” makes my head explode.

  • Andrew 518


    I really hate this. Eliminating the divisions would be a step forward for me, but this just sucks. Trading integrity for dollars, Bud Selig’s lasting legacy.

    The rush job here just makes it even worse.

    Sports used to be about winning, ultimately choosing a “world champion.” Now it is just about making the most amount of money for the most amount of people.

  • Matt DiBari


  • Dave

    I hate all of this new playoff stuff. Lets see how MLB decides to change it once the Yankees and Boston take advantage of this.

  • CJ

    Think a season ending in a one game wild card loss to Albert Pujols and the Angels will be considered a failure? Winning the division is a must. This WC scenario could come down to the firing of Girardi or Cashman or blow away $189.

  • jjyank

    I am still torn on this issue. On the one hand, I applaud the effort to make winning the division more important. After a long, 162 game season, I think a division winner should have somewhat of an advantage. And although I understand the argument to get rid of divisions, I like the division system. I know its not very balanced, but I think it helps foster rivalries. I like rivalries. Not every rivalry is of the Yankees-Red Sox caliber that could withstand an elimination of divisions over the course of a generation or two. Another positive, this will probably make it harder for a wild card team to make it through the LDS, which also means it will be more difficult for a wild card team to win the World Series. I like this. Division winners should have a leg up there.

    On the other hand, I hate that the fate of a playoff team can come down to one game. Even a standard best of 3 series would be better. I know the playoffs are long, but one game to decide the wild card winner? I am not a fan of that. Yes, it will make for some exciting baseball, but you all know that “You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn”, anything can happen in one game. One game in baseball has no bearing on who is the better team, and that bothers me that it will be used to determine just that.

    Overall, I will reserve my judgement until I see it in action for a few years.

    • whozat

      One game in baseball has no bearing on who is the better team, and that bothers me that it will be used to determine just that.

      I think this is the flawed assumption :-) I, like you, want the playoffs to be a competition among the teams that have, over the course of the season, proven to be the best.

      Major League Baseball does not want that. Or, more accurately, they’re willing to give ground on the playoffs being a competition among the best teams in exchange for manufacturing March-Madness-style excitement. They WANT crazy upsets. They want “IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS!” to happen every year, multiple times if possible. I guess that appeals to a segment of the fan base that does not include me :-/ To me, it all feels artificial, and artificial tension isn’t exciting, it’s frustrating. The last day of the season last year was AWESOME because it had all, naturally, “come down to this”. Teams had duked it out for 6 months and come out even, so it was do-or-die.

      Now, we’ll have teams that are three games apart in the standings playing…because that’s the way the rules are set up. Sure “IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS,” but only because Bud Selig dictated that it had to. Oh, and by the way…while we do all this mandated nonsense, we’ll be icing the teams who actually WON something. Half their starting pitchers will be on 7 days rest, and the hitters won’t have swung a bat in anger for three days. That’ll make for some crisp baseball :-P

  • Brett

    What happens if the wild card winner is the second best team in the league? Does the #1 seed still play them? So if the Yanks win 100, Sox win 99, Rays win 89, Rangers win 91, Tigers win 90, then the Sox win the Wild card play in. Do the Yanks play the 99 win Sox or do they get the Tigers? Said another way, are the division winners automatically seeded 1-3 after we know who wins the play in game?

  • Virgil Earp

    It’s a mistake. Baseball is trying to keep more teams in the race but it’s just watering down the playoffs. A 95 win team from a tough division is going to have to play an 83 win team from a joke division and in one game the superior team isn’t much of a favorite. They need to make it the two lowest seeds regardless of division. You can’t have a 95 win team playing an 83 win team in a one game playoff just to get in. It’s a joke.

  • Midland TX

    Are they keeping the idiotic policy of deciding World Series home-field advantage based on who wins an exhibition game many stars try to avoid?

  • Peter

    I like giving the division winners an advantage. I assume the WC winners will use their best pitchers to win the one game “play-in” so they can’t pitch til 3rd or 4th DS game. One big flaw is the DS format. The better seed starts on the road potentially only getting 1 home game wether they win or lose 1st 2. At least it’s only 1 year like that. Overall I think it’ll be good for the game. I remember controversy when they created the WC and that’s been good.

  • Clay

    IMHO, this isn’t trading integrity for dollars. This is a great game design idea that we’ve been working on for the last 13 years:

    Unlike the NBA, it actually brings back the importance of division races.

    In researching this proposal, we simulated 5,000 seasons and never had a sub-.500 playoff team.

  • Bohosh

    Just increase the season to 1000 games and the team with the most players able to play at the end of the season will be declared the champions.