I don’t even know what to say. This is one of the wildest, most absurd stories I can remember. In a day that has been filled with the wrong kind of stories on MLB’s Opening Day, including a team being homeless and a young star testing positive, they have added a new wrinkle. Literally three hours before the start of their season, MLB has an agreement with the Players Association to expand the postseason from 10 to 16 teams. ESPN’s Marly Rivera was the first to report this.
The union has approved the agreement discussed with MLB for expanded playoffs, only for the 2020 postseason; that agreement is now subject only to ratification by the owners, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/HFmaEQ8Npk— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) July 23, 2020
I am just so in awe of all of this I’m really not even sure what to say. Before we get into what this means for the Red Sox and the league as a whole, I just want to reiterate that this was agreed to three hours before the start of the season. The Yankees had already released their lineup for tonight’s game before the league decided to change the playoff format. That is patently absurd. Also absurd is that Rob Manfred has said repeatedly that the season could not extend into November. Seems pretty wacky to be adding three more playoff teams in each league if you don’t want the season to be any longer!
There are a lot of people mad about this change, and I get it. It is worth pointing out that the agreement is just for this season, and if that is the case that is fine. This season is so bizarre the champions were going to be viewed skeptically no matter what. Just go full blown bananas. Why not? Buster Olney even reported that the high seeds would be able to choose their opponents in the first round. Awesome. Why not? Go nuts. The issue is that rules like this rarely last for just one year.
As with the universal DH in the National League, there is a strong suspicion that this is the new normal. That, I agree, would not be great. Teams are already comfortable going into the season with mediocre records, and having extra playoff spots every year is not going to help matters. I liked the addition of the extra wildcard because I thought (and still do think) the do-or-die game was a great addition of tension. Adding six more playoff teams and an extra best-of-three round — and taking away the do-or-die round the process — doesn’t quite do it for me.
So, I don’t know. I won’t get really mad about it until it is officially a part of the game moving forward, but I’m not optimistic it’s a one-off. Anyway, the Red Sox have a better chance of sneaking into the playoffs, and the Yankees have a better chance of being knocked out early. So that’s neat I guess.