MLB Playoff Expansion: Is Bigger Always Better?

The big news today from Major League Baseball? By 2012, the league may expand its playoffs to ten teams.Currently, the playoff structure is eight teams, with four from each league (three division winners and a wild card team).

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If there was another wild card team added, there would be more excitement in September, right? Not necessarily.

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Major League Baseball is unique in the sense that it plays 162 regular season games. It's safe to say that after such a long season, the cream has risen to the top of the rankings. It's difficult to argue that more baseball in October is even desirable, let alone in demand.

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Sure, the NHL and the NBA allow 16 out of 30 teams into the playoffs, but their seasons are half as long and indoor sports are more suited for lengthy, lucrative playoff scenarios.

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The sport of baseball has undergone some major changes in the recent past; from the adoption of interleague play to the addition of a wild card team, the 1990's were a historical time for the game. We've dealt with steroids, relocation, talks of contraction, expansion teams, and several other blips on the radar. But another playoff expansion? It seems like a plan designed by rich men to line their pockets even further.

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The benefit of an expanded playoffs would be pretty straightforward: teams like the Minnesota Twins or the Oakland Athletics, who always field competitive teams, might make the postseason more frequently if there is an extra spot available. Their fanbases would have more to cheer about, and more chances to spend money at the ballpark.

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What would this do for the Pittsburgh Pirates fans? No amount of playoff expansion will get that team into the mix. Instead of tinkering with the playoffs, fix the uneven playing field in the lower tier of the league itself. Provide towns like Seattle, Phoenix, and Baltimore with teams they can be proud of before expanding October baseball.

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