It was supposed to be announced no later than Thursday, but with the sides saying it wasnâ€™t a hard deadline, it will arrive Friday. Two extra teams will make the playoffs in Major League Baseball in 2012 as opposed to waiting till the 2013 season. Now, instead of one Wild Card team per league, there will be two (the fourth and fifth best records in the AL and NL). Those four teams will play two one-game sudden death tilt the day after the regular season, with the right to advance to the Division Series.
The difficulty in having the games this season has been that the 2012 schedule is already finalized. The issue has been to try and squeeze in the new Wild Card games the day after the regular season ends, deal with any potential regular season tie-breaker games that would have to be played before then, the League Division Series, and the League Championship Series and account for time to allow rainouts, all into a three-week window from Oct 3 to the start of the World Series on Oct. 24.
But, the league and union for the players seem to have worked that out. Bud Selig had been pushing for it, and MLBâ€™s commissioner is going to get it.
What has yet to be determined is who will air the Wild Card games. While the announcement that there will be additional playoff teams this season will come tomorrow, who will be broadcasting the games, wonâ€™t. The league will be announcing that aspect at a later date.
While it has yet to be determined who will be broadcasting the games, the options really boil down to the current national broadcast partners FOX, TBS, and ESPN as the key bidders. Itâ€™s possible that MLB Network could be in the mix, but given the reach that the other networks have (and the money that the league could pull in for the excitement of a one-game playoff), it seems likely that FOX, TBS, and ESPN will be where the games land in October.
As we noted in an earlier report, the expanded playoffs could help pay dividends to MLB at the end of next year. Thatâ€™s when the national broadcast agreements with FOX, ESPN, and TBS expire. A boost in ratings and viewership with the additional games could add to what is likely to be a massive windfall in broadcast revenues at the time.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog..Â He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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