Here's the release from Major League Baseball and the MLBPA:
The 2012 postseason will feature a 10-team format that includes two additional wild card clubs and an elimination game in each league prior to the Division Series, commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to the changes to the new postseason format as a part of last year’s collective bargaining.
The new basic agreement, announced on November 22, provided that MLB and the MLBPA would expand the postseason no later than 2013; that a second wild card would be awarded in both the American League and the National League; and that a single postseason game would be played between each League’s two wild card clubs, with each winner advancing to compete among the three division champions from each league in the division series. Following further discussions to address player concerns, the parties agreed that the new format would be used in 2012.
For the 2012 postseason only, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds. This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to Game 5 of the Division Series and was necessary because the 2012 regular season schedule was announced before the agreement on the new postseason was reached.
Next year, the Division Series will return to the 2-2-1 format used in previous years. Details on the scheduling of the new elimination games between each league’s wild cards will be announced in the near future.
UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: MLB has eliminated the rule that the wild card winner can't play a team from its division in the Division Series.
What is your take on this? The thing that jumps out at me is that winning the division now has much more value and that increases the importance of the 162-game schedule.
In previous years, the better teams slapped it into cruise control for the final two weeks of the season and worried more about lining up their pitching instead of winning the division. Now it really pays to win the division, otherwise you face a one-game playoff.
And those one-game playoffs will be really fun to watch.