Published April 21, 2011
NEW YORK – With both sides expressing support for adding two playoff teams in 2012, negotiators for baseball players and owners are considering having the new wild-card round be best-of-3 or winner-take-all.
Because longer series would push playoffs deeper into cold weather, the sides are not considering have the new first round be best-of-5 of best-of-7.
"I would say we're moving to expanding the playoffs, but there's a myriad of details to work out," Commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. "Ten is a fair number."
Since 1995, eight of the 30 baseball teams make the playoffs. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs. In the NBA and NHL, 16 of 30 advance to the postseason.
In the new format, the two wild cards in each league would meet, and the winners would advance to the following round against division winners.
"The more we've talked about it, I think we're moving inexorably to that," Selig said.
Discussions have taken place as part of collective bargaining for a labor deal to replace the one that expires in December. Players want to make sure the new format doesn't cause lengthy travel with little recovery time.
"We've had a healthy exchange on a number of alternatives," union head Michael Weiner said, "but the sides recognize there has to be a balance of competitive considerations, economic considerations and player safety considerations."
Selig said owners were unanimous in their desire to achieve a worldwide amateur draft in collective bargaining and that a majority of teams favored a slotting system to determine signing bonuses for draft picks.
Selig also said he will not consider changing Barry Bonds' records following the slugger's conviction on obstruction of justice last week.
Bonds holds the career (762) and season (73) home run records, breaking marks set by Hank Aaron (755) and Mark McGwire (70).
"In life there's always got to be pragmatism," Selig said. "I think that anybody who understands the sport understands exactly why."
Bonds was convicted last week on a single count, with the jury finding he gave an evasive answer to a grand jury in 2003 when asked whether personal trainer Greg Anderson ever gave him anything that required an injection. Bonds' lawyers have asked for the verdict to be thrown out.
Selig also expressed confidence the Mets will be able to sell a minority interest in the team and raise money, relieving some of the pressure caused by a lawsuit from the trustee seeking to recover money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
"I'm very confident that they set out a process to sell part of their club, and the person handling that is very confident that can happen," Selig said, a reference to investment banker Steve Greenberg, a son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. "Hopefully, the Mets will find a suitable partner and do it posthaste."
Selig said teams had reduced their combined debt by $1 billion in the past year but he would not say what the industry debt total currently is. He said baseball's debt rules "could use some change, modest change, and we're working on those."
Selig also hoped that the Cardinals and Albert Pujols find a way to agree on a new contract. The slugging first baseman can become a free agent after the World Series.
"It is true there are some players who captivate a community," he said. "You hope that could be perpetuated."
Selig, who has headed baseball since September 1992, repeated his often-stated intention to retire when his current term expires at the end of 2012 but admits owners are skeptical.
"My wife said, 'Buddy, cut it out, nobody believes you, starting with me,'" he said.