Just hours before the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season and we still don’t have all of the answers.
MLB insider Jon Heyman first reported on Wednesday that league and players’ union re-entered negotiations on expanding the postseason field this year from its usual 10-team format to 16 teams.
The decision must be made before the first pitch of the season opener between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals on Thursday night (7:10 p.m. ET).
While the parameters of the expanded playoffs are unknown at the time of this article’s publishing, a likely scenario is that the top eight teams in each league make the postseason with a format similar to that of the NBA or NHL. The No. 1 seed in each league plays the No. 8 seed, No. 2 plays No. 7, and so on in a best-of-three first round to fit baseball’s scheduling limits.
The subsequent Divisional Series would likely remain as a best-of-five series while the Championship Series and World Series would be a classic best-of-seven.
Approval for the expanded format this season would disband the concept of the Wild Card Game — at least for this year — which has been in effect since 2012. Under that postseason format, the three division winners automatically qualify for the Divisional Series while the top two Wild Card teams play a one-game playoff to round out the final four in each league.