Major League Baseball has officially added two more Wild Card teams to the postseason starting this season, a move that will necessitate a one-time change to the Division Series format.
The Major League Baseball postseason will include two more Wild Card teams starting this season, the league announced Friday. The two Wild Card teams in each league will play in a one-game playoff, with the winner advancing to the Division Series.
The television rights for the new one-game playoff have not yet been determined. TBS, which televises all Division Series games and half of the League Championship Series, would seem to make the most sense — although MLB could want to throw a bone to ESPN, which has been shut out of the postseason since 2006.
Because the schedule for the 2012 regular season and World Series has already been determined, the new playoff format will necessitate a one-time change to the Division Series. For this year only, the Division Series will revert to the 1995-1997 format, with the top seeded team playing the first two games on the road and then hosting the final three games of the series.
The change allows MLB to eliminate a travel day between Games 4 and 5 of the Division Series. Keep in mind MLB did not have that travel day from 1998-2006, when the Division Series used the now-traditional 2-2-1 format. That resulted in, for example, the Athletics and Red Sox playing a Game 4 in Boston in 2003 and flying across the country for a Game 5 in Oakland the next day.
(Friday’s news from MLB.com)