Major League Baseball officially announced plans for playoff expansion for the 2012 season yesterday. The expanded system was introduced via press release, and made official the new 10-team format many were expecting.
In the press release, MLB indicated that “the 2012 Postseason will feature a 10-team format that includes two additional Wild Card Clubs and an elimination game in each League prior to the Division Series”. It went on to confirm that “a single Postseason game would be played between each League’s two Wild Card Clubs, with each winner advancing to compete among the three division champions from each League in the Division Series”.
This is the format we all expected to result from initial talks that were reported last fall. At first it appeared this format would be introduced during the 2013 season, but commissioner Bud Selig pushed for the expansion to take place immediately. One of Selig’s reasons for pushing the change as hard as he did was because he said he’s never confronted an issue that teams wanted to be implemented so badly.
The only real development in the situation is related to the scheduling of the Division Series. MLB announced that “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” was implemented to eliminate a travel day prior to game five. MLB indicated that the Division Series will return to the normal 2-2-1 format in 2013.