Red Sox

MLB Notebook: Baseball’s radical playoff proposal may be a necessary overhaul

Major League Baseball floated a trial balloon a week ago, only to see the vast majority of media, fans and players take aim at it in order to (figuratively) shoot it down.

The proposal: expanding the number of playoff teams from the current five teams to seven in each league; awarding a first-round bye to the division champion with the best record; staging a three-game wild card round (rather than the current one-and-done format) with all three games hosted by the team with the superior record; and perhaps most radically, allowing the two highest-seeded teams to choose their first-round opponent.

Let's put aside, for the time being, the fact that a lot will have to happen to get this plan enacted. The Players Association must approve any changes to the postseason format and it's highly unlikely anything will change before 2022, with the current CBA set to expire after the 2021 season.

Almost immediately, the reaction was intensely negative. Some didn't like the notion of the expanded playoff field, charging that baseball would be more closely resembling the NBA and NHL playoffs. Both the NBA (30 teams) and NHL (31 teams) have 16 postseason participants while the NFL allows 12 of its 32 teams to qualify.

Others argued that choosing opponents -- which would be done on the final night of the regular season as part of a TV selection show -- is too hokey and reeked of the artificial drama associated with reality shows.

Players raged. Columnists fumed. Mostly, people asked some variation of this question: Why does Rob Manfred hate baseball so much?